Army to lead fight against climate change in Pakistan

  • Tree plantation task to be assigned to Pak army, Mushahidullah
  • Construction on world's 'biggest botanical garden' in Bani Gala will kick off from Jan 10

ISLAMABAD – The federal government is mulling to hand over tree plantation task to Pakistan Army, Minister for Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan said on Tuesday.

The regions of Azad Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA contains large forests which need to be taken control of by the central or provincial government. “The government cannot wage war on influential tribal leaders so the plan is to hand over tree plantation task to the army,” the PML-N senator told journalists during a luncheon hosted by climate ministry on Tuesday.

Mr Khan said the government has decided to resolve climate issues under national security affairs. He added a new regulatory authority would be established to overcome the challenge of climate change, which would also regulate the issues related to the environment.

World’s biggest botanical garden

Mushahidullah further informed that the construction of a botanical garden in Bani Gala, spreading over areas of 785 acres, will kick off from January 10.

He claimed that it would be the biggest botanical garden of the world, which would be constructed with a cost of Rs15 billion. A boundary wall of the garden would be constructed to save it from occupation.

The money would be paid under United Nations Readiness programme under the supervision of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to those persons who would protect the trees and save them from cutting.

Earlier, talking to journalists, he said climate change is a big threat to Pakistan. He informed that Pakistan stands at seventh number among top ten climate affected countries. Terming it a national issue across the globe, the lawmaker said the powers were transferred to provinces, which was “a wrong decision”. He said tree cutting was a crime but no one was concerned about it. He added bureaucracy was not fulfilling its responsibilities.

The minister said that continuous wiping out of trees was posing a serious threat to our lives. He said he was helpless but sought the cooperation of all to save trees from cutting. He said under the United Nations charter there must be 12% forests over the total area of the country but in Pakistan, this ratio is 4.9%. He also cast doubts on the facts and figures. He said he was ashamed for representing a country, which occupies less area of forests.

“We have glaciers, which are great blessings but the weather was turning hot due to a shortage of trees, which was resulting melting of trees and water reservoirs were diminishing”, he added. Khan said if the heed was not paid towards this, the country would become barren. “Agriculture sector was facing loss worth billions of rupees. He said rain system has badly been affected due to climate change and farmers were worried about this situation”.

The climate change said that he also wrote letters to different Islamic countries highlighting the importance of trees. He said Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) also ordered to protect trees. He appealed media to take it as a serious issue and a national cause to save future of next generations. He feared if steps were not taken this lush green country would transform into a desert. Those who filled their wallets from industrial development have no threats from global warming.

He further said Europe used fuel at a greater level of industrial progress, adding the issue was raised in 1980. He said building situated in different cities of Europe had turned black including London but we are facing the outcome of this use. “We have the best sea and coastal line and were cutting mangroves to populate it”, he said, adding the sea aquatic species lay eggs in these mangroves”, he added. He warned that our sea would get drain from these species.

“We are hunting turtles ruthlessly and selling out while these are big sources to eradicate illness in waters”, he explained. He said if there was truth in planting 1.18 billion trees then there would be snowing. Citing a Chinese city where 900 million trees were planted, he said prior to planting of tree it was desert but now there is cold.

Mushahidullah lauded services of Secretary KP, Nazar Shah, saying he works with diligence. He said after shifting powers to provinces after the passage of 18th amendment, we can only form policies or coordination. He said provinces have to work, which are working.

Giving an example of Rawal Dam, the minister said there was so much filth that neither one should drink water from it nor eat fish. He said residents of Rawalpindi are drinking the water of Rawal Dam. We have to plant saplings on an emergency basis as these have the power to halt floods for seventy-two hours, he requested. The federal minister proposed that if the wood was Imported then the massacre of trees would stop automatically.