It was 2028, 10 years after the infamous elections of 2018. Even though the new government could not perform any miracles but a significant positive change was seen among the masses. Life has a strange way of teaching us lessons, sometimes the storms set the sails right. After years of deprivation, it seemed as if the people of Faisalabad had finally woken up to the reality that in order to change the circumstances one has to stand up for one’s self. The public was starting to take responsibility for their actions and change was evident at the micro-level of the society. Who would have imagined a decade ago that a city plagued with rampant pollution, corruption and economic devastation would one day be ranked among the Top 10 Environment-Friendly Cities of the World. But the change was slow and gradual besides nothing sustainable happens overnight.
Lost in thoughts, Ejaz was sitting in the corner office of the tallest skyscraper among the cluster of eco-friendly buildings rising around the famous Clock Tower. In a few years, the area was transformed into a corporate hub providing technological solutions along with incubation centers for entrepreneurial ventures and Research & Development facilities. He was the CEO of Solar Energy Solutions, a startup aimed at providing low-cost installment- based solar energy systems for domestic and commercial use.
His company aimed at transforming Faisalabad into a zero-carbon emitting city and strived to provide people with renewable energy resources. Since Faisalabad received sunlight almost 9 out of 12 months solar energy was deemed as a viable solution. A knock on the door disrupted his train of thoughts as the secretary informed him of the arrival of a delegation from Japan.
He was keenly looking forward to this meeting as the Japanese had proposed an Artificial Intelligence-based educational-support system for students. The idea was to provide personalized assistance to students thus eliminating the need for academies and tuition centers. It was a great initiative since as a kid Ejaz always despised having to go to coaching centers when he could use that time to practice his soccer skills. Moreover, it was an additional financial burden on his middle-class family.
Several of such startups were mushrooming in the city mostly financed by the local business tycoons. It was no surprise that Faisalabad was starting to be known as the city revived by its people. After a successful meeting, Ejaz had planned to give the Japanese delegation a tour around the city. His guests were surprised by the cycle stands on every signal as they were told about the latest initiative that gave bi-cycles on rent through an App. Users could easily rent a cycle from their cell-phones and leave it on any of the numerous stands built around the city.
The government had further supported this venture by building dedicated cycling tracks all around the city. An immense feeling of pride took over Ejaz when the Japanese appreciated the abundance of trees in the city. Coming from a place where one could not breathe without a mask on Japanese were surprised at the clean fresh air that surrounded them. Although it was unimaginable a decade ago yet after a yearlong persuasion from the public government decided to draft a Good Business Practices Policy.
As a rudimentary step manufacturing industries were shifted on the outskirts of the city. And a comprehensive guideline was issued that included practices like proper waste management system, water stewardship programs and plantation of trees in the factory vicinity.
The green revolution also encouraged citizens to plant trees outside their houses while organizations were required to build rooftop gardens. Another initiative that the government took was establishing a waste management system that encouraged recycling. Each locality was given three separate bins for arranging waste into easily recyclable items such as plastic, paper, glass and food items. Heavy fines were also imposed on littering which further assured cleanliness of the city.
Soon it was time for lunch and one of Ejaz’s childhood friends was going to join them. Ali was the founder of Blockchain Technology Solutions a startup aimed at providing cloud data storage services for financial institutions and corporations. His company strived to reduce financial discrepancies, tax evasions, money laundering and the time and effort required for annual audits. Japanese were already excelling in blockchain systems while it was in its initial phases in Pakistan.
The delegates offered technical support and capacity building of the workforce which Ali was glad to accept. After lunch, the guests challenged Ejaz and Ali to show them something that the Japanese can never forget. Ejaz and Ali gave each other an amused look, both knew what they were thinking.
The guests were taken to a nearby theater that was specially designed for the international audience. The seats were installed with headphones that translated the play dialogues into various languages in real-time. Japanese are known for their seriousness and dedication mainly attributed to the hardships the country faced when it fell to ashes. But little did the guests know that Faisalabadians were known for their sense of humor and wittiness.
The stage drama being performed today had some of the most respected artists of the country but that did not mean they were any less witty. Spotting the Japanese in the audience the actors cracked a joke about how they could not poke holes in the famous Pakistani snack ‘Gol Gappay’. The other performer challenged the guests to laugh while keeping their eyes open. The Japanese guests couldn’t help but laugh through the entire play. A focus on ethics and morals had revived every aspect of Faisalabad including bringing back the glory of comedy stage-plays. Today visiting theaters had become a weekly entertainment for families.
On a happy note and with promises and aspirations for a successful partnership Ali and Ejaz bid farewell to the delegation. Later Ejaz dropped Ali at his office and after parking the car in his building’s parking lot he started walking towards the mass-transit system.
The comfort, efficiency and low-cost of the public transport had motivated the general public to use less personal cars. Besides Ejaz liked to utilize the traveling time to read or ponder over new ideas and solutions since he was an entrepreneur. Looking outside the train he could see water- filtration and recycling plants providing the city with drinking and domestic-use water in two separate pipelines.
Over-whelmed by how much the people of Faisalabad had accomplished together he knew his city and country still had a long way to go. But in a country with a large population of passionate youngsters, he also knew that change though slow was inevitable.
By: Nayab Nasir