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Flagship PACT Radio Programme Reaches its Centenary

Along with The Pulay Poray radio drama – “storytelling in a contemporary context” – there is no programme that sums up the Traditional Solutions for Modern Problems approach of PACT Radio more than its environmental programme – Chaperyal (Habitat.)

This was clear from one of the first reports PACT Radio/The Saba Story made on the subject of protecting the environment. The report was about the harmful effects of plastic shopping bags on the environment. Community elders pinpointed the problem in the following words:

“My name is Miran Shah. We used to bring our shopping home in a bag of some sort. We used to make a bag on our own out of some cloth or other material.”

“My name is Gul Rahman. I am from Kalwaray. In the old days, when elders of a household used to go to the shops, they would have a shawl with them. They used to tie whatever they used to buy in a knot, in the corner of their shawl, and bring it home. When they reached home, they would untie the knot in their shawl. Inside, there would be separate paper-bags, containing various items of shopping.”

“I am Ghulam Shabbir, from Bazi Khel. In the old days, people brought their shopping home in bags made of cloth. Now they bring it home in plastic shopping bags.”

All the instances cited by these community elders were “traditional solutions for a modern problem,” the modern problem being plastic shopping bags, the traditional solution being using cloth – a reusable cloth bag or a knot in one’s shawl – as people used to do.

This suggestion of solutions that are in line with people’s own traditions has also been in evidence in PACT Radio/The Saba Story’s programmes on deforestation. For example, in a deforestation report from Kalam in Swat, the reporter discussed the issue of unrestricted cutting of trees in recent times while in the past, it was a tradition in that area that local people banned chopping of trees for a specific period. Anyone who cut a tree down during that time would be liable to a heavy “nagha” – a fine from the community or tribe.

But the traditional approach of PACT Radio to environmental care is even more deep-rooted than this. Indeed it is rooted in two Islamic concepts: avoidance of extravagance (israf) and avoidance of cruelty (zulm). The meaning of the Arabic word zulm is literally putting something in the wrong place. Putting pollution into the air, rivers and the sea is an example of putting something in the wrong place – zulm. Failing to conserve natural resources is an example of extravagance, what the Quran calls israf.

It is a cause of great satisfaction to PACT Radio/The Saba Story, then, that its Chaperyal (Habitat) programme has recently reached its centenary of programmes. The programme has set out to highlight major issues or threats to our environment in the cross-border region. The programme has covered a range of topics – global warming, forestation and deforestation, air pollution, climate change, conservation of energy resources, mining, water pollution, wastage and other topics from the length and breadth of the Pak-Afghan border regions.

And there is another very underlying Islamic concept that is the moving force behind PACT Radio/The Saba Story’s approach to environmental issues: it is the concept of “shukr” – being thankful to Allah for the Earth that has been given to us as a home.

This spirit of thanksgiving should motivate us to be diligent in caring for our environment – the forests, land, water and air that we inhabit. “Tidiness and cleanliness,” the Holy Prophet said, “are half of true faith.” Principles of tidiness and sanitation also constitute a large part of good care of the environment. These are the type of concepts that are at the core of cross-border tradition and which PACT Radio seeks to tap into by talking to ordinary people about environmental issues. Through this approach PACT Radio aims to engender a more careful and responsible approach to environmental care.

The fact that PACT Radio/The Saba Story is very serious about putting on an effective environmental programme is shown by the amount of training we have put into the subject. One training workshop was held in collaboration with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in May 2010. Trainers in this workshop explained to PACT Radio/The Saba Story journalists how man had been provided with a good and natural environment, but as the human population increased and went on the road of so-called development, man started corrupting his environment, intentionally or unintentionally. Now the condition is that our forests are dying, wildlife is vanishing and the fertility of the earth is lessening. There is very little pure water to drink and very little clean air to breathe. New, unexpected natural calamities are encircling man.

This is in line with what has also been written in the holy Quran:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“Great corruption has been wrought in the land and the sea, because of the work of man’s own hand…”

(Al-Quran, 30:41)

The trainers highlighted particular issues in the border regions in which PACT Radio/The Saba Story broadcasts. For example:

• Habitat fragmentation

• Deforestation

• Depletion of natural resources

• Soil/land erosion

• Environmental pollution

• Climate change
Not only have listeners written in, appreciating the programme. They have also written in giving ideas, about issues they feel should be covered in the programme. For example, Mohammad Tahir wrote about a problem affecting the Siran river in Hazara region. He said that people there make use of explosives and electric charges for fishing which is very dangerous for fish and for people also. In one place, it so happened that a fisherman threw electric charges into the river. A few people were swimming in the river, three of whom were electrocuted. Who knows how many fish were also electrocuted in the process.

PACT Radio/The Saba Story is looking to strengthen its environmental programme. For this purpose, it is actively looking for sponsorship of its environmental programme, along with sponsorship of a module on environmental protection in its sister educational institution – the Islamic Vocational Academy. Students who follow the module would then go onto becoming reporters with PACT Radio/The Saba Story and particularly with its environmental programme – Chaperyal – the only programme of its kind in the Pak-Afghan border regions.

Parties who are interested in sponsoring this environmental programme may get in touch with the Head of PACT Radio at john.butt@pactradio.com

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