Picture, picture on the wall | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Picture, picture on the wall

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: A couple of years back, some NGOs ran a campaign to beautify Karachi. The drive is still pretty much on, in one way or another.

These ‘initiatives’, another name for the organised well-wishers of the city, were praised simply because their intention was to make the metropolis come across as an aesthetically pleasing city to live in. (Perhaps another reason was to reclaim its lost glory.) But the thing that they should have kept in mind is that once you put a plan in place in a volatile place such as Karachi, that plan needs to be reviewed and monitored on a regular basis.

For example, the idea to paint the walls along several roads was a worthy one. It did, for a while, give a fresh look to the roads.

The walls that were painted by groups of young artists were in localities that included Gulshan-i-Iqbal (Rashid Minhas Road), Saddar, Seaview, the airport and its adjoining areas. There was a fair degree of zest with which they were painted with light colours, some of them having images of birds and trees, others carrying meaningful slogans egging the citizens on to keep their city spick and span. Good on them.

But what now? The walls, though they are pretty much there and not defaced or sullied by politico-religious phrases or stained by paan spittle, clearly show that they have not been maintained by the painters the way they would maintain an artwork made to be put on display in an exhibition. The images are dusty, and now have a tawny tinge to them. Some of them, such as the ones on the small wall along the strip of road that connects Ziauddin Road to Clifton Bridge, even have scratches on painted pictures.

Similarly, the artworks, drawn with such diligence at Sultanabad on the road that leads to PIDC from Keamari, look weary. They require a touchup job, that’s it –– no elaborate work for which massive funding should be sought.

Then there is the unmissable Karachi Press Club. The big images of some brilliant individuals –– to whom society owes a great deal because of their invaluable services to their respective fields –– should be (re)visited by the people who came up with the commendable idea. One understands that it is not easy to keep things intact outside the club because it is one place where all kinds of protesters, and even revelers, come to vent their feelings. Still, what good is an idea if it cannot last?