Minister Zartaj Gul Criticised For Trying To ‘Hijack’ Climate March
On Friday, Pakistanis took to the streets as part of a global movement to protest against climate change. The protests were a citizen-led initiative and were organised by Climate Action Now. Media reports indicated that the protests took place in 30 towns and cities.
The protesters constituted mostly of the youth and many students in school uniforms could be seen taking part in the protests.
The protest march were a part of the Global Climate Strikes planned ahead of the UN’s climate emergency summit on September 23. The protests were entirely citizen-led and were organised by environmentalists and local rights groups.
No government support was given to these protests, however, the government was quick to take credit for the march. In a move that was not received positively by many, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir tweeted that she had held ‘an engaged public awareness event to focus on sustainability initiatives’.
Dishonest of @zartajgulwazir to claim credit for a purely citizen-led & organised march that she merely showed up for. Please don’t try to hijack civil society efforts.
Govt needs to be “triggered” for a more committed behaviour: invest in sustainable energy; plastic ban is good pic.twitter.com/I7Zb0rmtpO
— Usama Khilji (@UsamaKhilji) September 20, 2019
The minister’s attempt to appropriate a citizen-led struggle faced backlash, with many criticising the claim of the minister as an attempt to ‘hijack’ a citizen movement.
Climate Action Now, one of the main organisers of the march, in response to a tweet by the Ministry of Climate Change, stated that the minister was invited as a stakeholder and had nothing to do with organising the event.
Zartaj Gul was invited to the event as a stakeholder, however it is clear that she has done absolutely nothing for this event, and neither has she done anything for her Ministerial portfolio for Climate Change. We demand such empty figureheads to be removed.
— Climate Action Now! → Pakistan (@ClimateActionPk) September 20, 2019
A climate change awareness platform, SohniDharti Climateers in a tweet expressed its disappointment about the minister of climate change trying to take credit for a citizen-led movement.
Extremely disappointed that @ClimateChangePK minister @zartajgulwazir is trying to take credit for what was a massive citizens led movement to address climate crisis @ClimateActionPk @anamzeb @Sairaishtiaq @SamarHasantwtr @SipraHassaan @rinasaeed @imran2u
— SohniDharti Climateers (@SohniDharti2018) September 20, 2019
A climate change activist who was one of the organisers of the march reminded the minister how citizens worked hard to organise this march, and yet she was taking credit for the movement.
We literally worked our asses off this past month to organize #ClimateMarchIslamabad. And here is our Minister @ClimateChangePK @zartajgulwazir taking credit for a citizens lead movement!
You did not ‘Held’ anything, you were invited as a speaker. You ‘Participated’!!!! https://t.co/XSTerg0xSL
— Anam Rathor (@AnamRathor) September 20, 2019
Former senator Farhatullah Babar, in response to Zartaj’s tweet in which she had said that she would be leading the walk and had asked people to join her, stated that it was arrogant and deluded of the minister to make such a claim and not give credit to the civil society organisations and students who organised the walk.
Arrogance, delusion and self importance unlimited: “join me. will b leading the Walk”, says Zartaj Gul Wazir instead of acknowledging the initiative of civil society/students and humbly saying that she too will join walk. Come out of the illusions of delusion and grow up please. https://t.co/J42RmzKYP8
— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) September 20, 2019
A climate change activist expressed disapproval at Zartaj Gul’s claims, saying that it was an attempt to undermine the efforts of civil society.
— Anam Zeb (@anamzeb) September 20, 2019
Another Twitter user called the minister’s actions shameless, and argued that her actions were similar to how the elite steals the work of hardworking people and portrays it as their own.
The climate change minister trying to shamelessly steal credit for Climate March is actually how a very high number of elites steal the work of hardworking folks & present it as their own. And they can get away with this because they control the narratives & resources.
— Hamza (@wingsforus) September 20, 2019
Another user opined that it was shameful that the minister was trying to ‘hijack’ the movement and the government’s (inaction) was the reason why such movements were necessary.
Shame on #zartajgulwazir for trying to hijack the climate strike and make it seem as if the government is responsible for this movement lol YOU ARE THE REASON THIS MOVEMENT IS NECESSARY
— Mav (@404mav) September 20, 2019
With the march occurring across the country, it seems that a lot of effort had been put into organising it. In light of this, it was understandable that one organiser questioned the minister’s audacity to take credit for the movement.
The kind of work people put into organizing the climate march and @zartajgulwazir has THE AUDACITY TO SAY SHE DID ALL OF THIS it's mindblowing for me just mindblowing
— Mehreen Talha (@dramallama212) September 21, 2019
The minister’s attempt to take credit for the march was met with disbelief by another climate change activist, who called it a ‘classic case of stealing credit for someone’s hard work’.
Unbelievable! This is a classic case of stealing credit for someone else's hard work.
Truely dissapointed! @zartajgulwazir @ImranKhanPTI @aminattock #climateactionpk @ClimateActionPk #ClimateMarchIslamabad pic.twitter.com/1qznYuLHZX
— Zahra Khan Durrani (@ZahraK_Durrani) September 20, 2019
With such a severe backlash to the minister’s statement, it is understandable that she has deleted the original tweet in which she claimed that she had ‘held’ a public awareness event. Not only has Zartaj Gul deleted the tweet, she has also backtracked from her statement and tweeted that it felt great to be led by the youngsters.
It was great to see our youngesters leading me,was Cool to March with them in the 5,th row✌️✌️✌️ https://t.co/3zdFzCh8Cp
— Zartaj Gul Wazir (@zartajgulwazir) September 20, 2019