Young Karachites say they are talking about climate change "because adults will not."
Under a scorching sun on Friday, a large group of Karachiites, mostly young students, gathered in the city's iconic Frere Hall armed with banners and slogans to join millions around the world raising their voices against climate change.
Mahum Moazzam, a student at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, described a "paralyzing fear" that one day he could not fulfill his dream of being an architect.
"It's that fear that wants me to be part of this activity and make sure our voices are heard," he said.
Moazzam hoped the march would make government officials sit down, take note and enact a "green agreement" to address the crisis.
Pakistan has been the eighth country most affected by the impact of climate-related events between 1998 and 2017, according to the "Global Climate Risk Index, 2019".
Karachi, in particular, has become increasingly aware of the impact of extreme weather conditions.
In 2015, the city experienced a strong heat wave that resulted in more than 1,200 deaths. It was described as the deadliest heat wave that Pakistan had seen in more than 50 years. Since then, the metropolis has experienced more spells of this kind.
Even on the day of the march, Karachi was under the control of a moderate heat wave, with a temperature around 37 degrees in the afternoon.
Volunteers adorning yellow and black bands can be seen all over the place. One of those volunteers, Aadil Ayub, said he had begun reading many weather reports since the beginning of this year and that the "bad news" had caused him anxiety.
"From March to April, I was depressed because I could not square the thorough reality of my daily life with the colossal theme of climate change.
"My whole lifestyle was involved in that, you know. You can't stop using fuel; you can't give up your industrial capitalist lifestyle that we all live. I felt guilty," he said.
Ayub established a resolution to get involved in the global effort and join the & # 39; climate strikes & # 39; in August. Later he began to help in Climate Action Pakistan, an initiative led by citizens that organizes the marches in the country.
He said the group had created awareness and spread the word through social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. Before and during the marches across the country on Friday, the group shared updates through their social media accounts.
On WhatsApp, the organizers had formed groups of 200 to 250 people in each city, Ayub explained. These became the main means to spread the word.
This is how Fatima Shah, 19, learned about the event.
"I am on the march because I feel that if we do not talk and if we do not ask for a change, there will be no change," he said, holding a sign that said: & # 39; I expected a fresher death & # 39;.
Arhum, 19, a student at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), said defending climate change was a "passion" for him.
"I am here in this march to expand what is a very superficial representation of climate change in Pakistan," he said. "Not only is Karachi getting hotter, there is much more than that. A lot of that isn't even seen in big cities, but droughts are occurring all over Sindh and Punjab."
"The root cause is climate change and we are not paying enough attention," he worried.
Arhum hoped that in the age of social networks, if such knowledge could reach younger people who would soon be eligible to vote, systematic changes could be enacted.
"The people who make a difference are the people here or the people who read about this on social media," he added.
Several posters held by Karachites on the march expressed similar fears about climate change and drew attention to the issue. There were also slogans for "climate justice."
Three Indus Academy high school students – Anjiya, Diya and Raiha – carried recyclable bags that were delivered during the event.
The bags read, & # 39; Don't be a drag, reuse this bag & # 39;.
"We believe that it is time for us to start acting on climate change and [realise] how it has such a drastic effect I think the world is doing an exceptional job of continuing [teenage climate campaigner] The steps of Greta Thunberg and really, you know, working to solve this problem, "said one.
"Honestly, we are very tired because many adults do not talk about this issue and we are doing what they do not want," added another.
According to activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir, the march should make politicians realize that they have an existing and growing bank of votes that wants the environment to be taken seriously.
"I have come to the march for extremely selfish reasons and I think everyone has come here for extremely selfish reasons: we all breathe, eat and drink water and we want food, air and water to be clean and sustainable." said.
Nasir added that the other purpose of the march is to sensitize Pakistani youth to this cause in their early years so that the movement can become a long and sustainable one.
This is also the reason why Maria Jamil, mother of three children, had taken her children to the march. She said her children were aware of things that happen around the world, such as the Amazon forest fires, thanks to social networks, and that she had come to the march for her future.
"I think it's important to them because, really, they are the future," he said.
Environmentalist Tofiq Pasha Mooraj said that for the past 30 to 40 years, he had been working in the environment. The fact that so many younger people had gone on the climatic march meant that what he had done in recent decades was paying off, he said.
"The youth has noticed [the urgency of the matter] because now it's his neck, "he said.
When the sun began to set in Frere Hall, attendees left their lawns and went out to the streets of Karachi. As they marched on the side of Abdullah Haroon's busy road, curious passersby watched the meeting from inside air-conditioned cars, wondering why they had closed a main road at rush hour.