No one to rein in timber mafia
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