Islamabad: An exhibition of 250 paintings entitled ‘Mountain Marvels’ inaugurated Wednesday at the Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC) in connection with the 7th Pakistan Mountain Festival, the globally recognised annual flagship event of the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan). The main objective of the advocacy festival is to highlight the importance of mountains for all the living creatures. Post-graduate and undergraduate students actively participating in the festival quite successfully painted our mountains’ natural environment, cultural heritage and the country’s highest peaks with sheer fantasy and thrill. The marvellous compositions in oil on canvas reflected the youth’s inspiration to save and serve the mountain ecosystems. Speaking on the occasion, Devcom Pakistan Executive Director and the founder and director of the Pakistan Mountain Festival, Munir Ahmed said, “Well-aware and sensitised youth about environmental sustainability is the last hope to protect the mother planet through conservation and development initiatives. The damage done by the older generation is irreparable but still there is hope to slowdown the process of degradation by reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions, eliminating indiscriminate deforestation and taking steps for inclusive and integrated afforestation”. He further added, “The exhibits reflect young artists’ love for the mountains and its culture through a variety of colours and treatment in oil-on-canvas. The Hunza and Kalash women, culture and heritage have been the preferred themes for some of the participants. The themes and the images the youth painted in the live competition shows their skills and love for the mountains, but sadly no one knows of the actual threats to them, its people and culture. We, the ‘experts’ and the organisations are responsible for the youth’s ignorance towards the worst climate changes happening around us. We need to launch a youth awareness campaign on changing climate. Government agencies, multilateral organisations and educational institutions need to institute an inclusive and comprehensive initiative to inform and educate the young.” Rawalpindi Arts Council Resident Director Waqar Ahmed said that the council has been supporting Pakistan Mountain Festival events to inculcate awareness among the youth and other segments of the society. He said that the RAC-Devcom collaboration is contributing meaningfully towards social awareness and engagement. Riffat Ara Baig, coordinator of the painting exhibition, said art can be a multi-fold medium to educate and inspire the youth and general public to love mountains not only for their beauty and natural landscape but as a source of biodiversity, forests and frozen water helpful for the continuity of life and livelihood. The participants termed the event as a source that inculcated love for nature and sensitised them on the issues confronting the highlands. Zobia Jammel said that she was there to express her love for the beauty-rich mountains that attract tourism. However, she has no clue why International Mountain Day is celebrated. Hira Javed said such kind of events help raise awareness on the issues. While we live on the footsteps of the Margalla Hills we need to be aware as well as educatesssss the youth of the importance of mountains in our lives. Farwar Sadaf said mountains provide us with fresh water and air, and without both we cannot live. We are thankful to those who maintain the culture and environment of the mountains to liven up our lives and moods. Laraib Ali said that cultural revival is a must for every society, and mountain culture is very less known to the people downstream. That is the reason why we need to mainstream mountain heritage and culture through various events. Published in Daily Times, December 1st 2017.