No one to rein in tim­ber mafia

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS -

MIN­IS­TER of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali has al­leged that tim­ber and min­ing mafia is rul­ing KPK. The re­marks made by him dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Islamabad on Thurs­day, were es­sen­tially po­lit­i­cal in na­ture and di­rected against PTI gov­ern­ment in the Prov­ince but these also cor­rob­o­rate ground re­al­i­ties if seen in the back­drop of what is hap­pen­ing, apart from scrub forests, in the hilly ranges of Hazara in­clud­ing Ko­his­tan, Torghar, Mansehra, Than­di­ani, Nathi­a­gali, Sa­tora and Khan­pur ar­eas where trees like de­o­dar, pine, fir, spruce, acer, fir­cus and wal­nut are mer­ci­lessly be­ing cut by the tim­ber mafia.

But the prob­lem is not con­fined to KPK alone, where Im­ran Khan has vowed to launch a war against this mafia that cut trees worth 100 bil­lion ru­pee in the Prov­ince dur­ing the last ten years alone. Ac­cord­ing to UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion, about 43,000 hectares of forests are cleared an­nu­ally in Pak­istan, which is the high­est de­for­esta­tion rate in Asia. Out of over 38,000 acres of re­served forests in Galiyat, es­ti­mates sug­gest 3,000 acres have been en­croached upon in the last three decades by politi­cians, bu­reau­crats and busi­ness­men. Same is true of Mur­ree where forests are be­ing elim­i­nated by tim­ber mafia be­sides en­croach­ment by in­flu­en­tial peo­ple. This is very se­ri­ous for a coun­try like Pak­istan where forests constitute just 4.8% of the to­tal land area as against the global av­er­age of 26%. De­priv­ing the coun­try of the for­est cover has dis­as­trous con­se­quences in terms of en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact but re­gret­tably no one seems to be both­ered. The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has launched a Green Pak­istan pro­gramme but its com­mit­ment can be gauged by the fact that just Rs 2 bil­lion have been al­lo­cated for the pro­gramme in the new bud­get. Im­ran Khan too has de­clared his in­ten­tion to plant one bil­lion trees but his claim is not sup­ported by ground­work. It is time that both Fed­eral and Pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments adopt a se­ri­ous ap­proach to ad­dress this most cru­cial is­sue by way of fix­ing tar­gets and en­sur­ing their achieve­ment in the stip­u­lated time.

DE­SPITE the fact that act of nu­clear ter­ror­ism has never oc­curred, the bo­gey of nu­clear ter­ror­ism is be­ing raised by the US and the West; and their think tanks, an­a­lysts and pro­pa­gan­dists say that it is an ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing phe­nom­e­non. As a mat­ter of fact, it is not only nu­clear ter­ror­ism, but use of nukes by the nu­clear power in the war also would have hor­ren­dous cir­cum­stances for the global se­cu­rity. Of course, the US was the only atomic power that had dropped two bombs on Hiroshima and Na­gasaki, killing thou­sands of peo­ple and maim­ing oth­ers in large num­bers. In an ar­ti­cle cap­tioned ‘Destruc­t­ing nu­clear ter­ror­ism’, the au­thor wrote: “In­tel­li­gence ex­perts be­lieve that a de­ter­mined ter­ror­ist group is ca­pa­ble of ac­quir­ing and trans­port­ing nu­clear weapons to the tar­get state.” Some writ­ers have been ex­press­ing con­cern that in the event Pak­istani state col­lapses, ter­ror­ists can lay their hands on nukes.

How­ever, a ma­jor Re­search Pa­per (MRP) ti­tled ‘Eval­u­at­ing the threat of nu­clear ter­ror­ism; cut­ting through the rhetoric’, au­thor Au­gus­tine Kwok of Grad­u­ate School of Pub­lic and In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs had de­bunked the un­war­ranted fear of nu­clear ter­ror­ism. The ab­stract of the re­search pa­per stated: “This ma­jor re­search pa­per (MRP) pro­vides a strong case for dis­miss­ing the overblown rhetoric of nu­clear alarmism by demon­strat­ing that a mul­ti­tude of con­struc­tive ac­tions are be­ing taken

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