First it was the push-ups challenge, now it is the clean-up challenge.
It started with Misbah-ul-Haq’s iconic century at Lord’s. After scoring that effortless 100 in his maiden test, our cool and collected captain, to everyone’s surprise (and delight), got down and did several push-ups.
Although Misbah’s push-ups were just a reference to the boot-camp training the team underwent at the military academy in Kakul, it did not stop the team from following suit and doing a few push-ups of their own in celebration of their victory over England in the first Test.
Little did they know that their little act of cheeky acknowledgement would turn into a craze in Pakistan. Soon after the team’s historic win at Lord’s, social media was flooded with videos of fans doing push-ups, celebrating the team’s exhilarating victory.
Initially the Push-up Challenge (or #pushupchallenge, as it came to be known) went viral due to its athletic significance; however, social media enthusiasts turned it up a notch by passing the challenge forward. As more and more people jumped on the bandwagon, the push-up craze morphed into a national fitness phenomenon. Eventually, however, as is the fate of what goes viral, the Push-up Challenge began to fade away.
What then catapulted the push-up trend back into the spotlight was a video of Sindh Sports Minister challenging his Punjab counterpart to a challenge of 50 push-ups. In the video, the newly appointed Sardar Muhammad Bux Khan Mahar, or ‘Chief’ (who is well-known on social media for his ‘swag’) was seen doing 50 ‘push-ups’ and then urging Abid Ali Sher to take up the challenge, which the latter happily accomplished. The challenge was then taken up by Zarrar Khoro of Zara Hat Ke fame and our very own Dr Aamir Liaqat Husain.
More interestingly, however, the fitness fad has now turned into a ‘Push-up Protest’. Registering their protest in a language the ‘Chief’ is familiar with, a dozen sportsmen from District Ghotki (the Chief’s home district), did push-ups at the only cricket stadium in the area. The purpose was to bring to the notice of the authorities the condition of the stadium, which is filled with stagnant water and heaps of rubbish.
This new face of the push-up challenge, while not as entertaining, served the more significant purpose of highlighting a social issue. While it is too early to gauge the effectiveness of this initiative, it nonetheless highlights a pressing problem faced by not only the sportsmen of District Ghotki but by most Pakistanis – the country’s kachra crisis.
Recently, social media platforms have been filled with people posting selfies with heaps of garbage in the background, with hashtags like #KarachiKaKachra, #CleanIT and #CleanPakistan, to name a few, springing up and giving more visibility to the issue.
As campaigns such as #FixIt and #KachraFestival work towards bringing about a solution to this predicament, Zameen.com recently launched #CleanYourZameen, a challenge that stands out as it creatively uses the challenge trend to highlight Pakistan’s kachra-crisis.
Posted on the company’s social media pages on August 14, as part of the Independence Day celebrations, the video features company employees cleaning a polluted area on Lahore’s M.M. Alam Road and subsequently challenging five other organisations – the cab-hailing start-up Careem, the on-demand auto maintenance service Auto Genie, the e-commerce solution provider Shopistan, the Facebook page Sarcasmistan and paint manufacturer Brighto Paints – to follow suit. With over 90,000 views in three days, most commentators deem this to have been a laudable effort that received an enthusiastic response.
The reaction that campaigns such as #CleanYourZameen, #KachraFestival and #FixIt have received on social media is proof of the fact that Pakistanis are fed up with the conditions of their cities. It is also heartening to know that although frustrated, they have approached the problem with their wit and creativity intact.
We should take pride in our spirit of innovation. With the right attitude we might even solve the issue once and for all!