Sunday Aug 09, 2020
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that the biggest charitable act a person can do now, when the whole world is ravaged by the effects of climate change, is to plant a tree.
His remarks came at a ceremony following the biggest tree plantation drive undertaken by the government, which aimed to plant 3.5 million saplings across the country in a day.
The prime minister said that Pakistan is among the top ten countries most adversely affected by climate change.
"It is our collective responsibility to try our best to make Pakistan a green country for the future of our children. These 3.5 million trees are only the beginning; this will be a constant effort," said the premier.
"These small children I see standing here today, we must do this for their future," he urged everyone.
"When a country resolves to right the wrongs done on God's green Earth, the biggest act of charity you can do is to plant a tree," he said.
Over a million volunteers of the Prime Minister's Tiger Force planted trees as part of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative, marking “Tiger Force Day” as earlier announced by the prime minister.
He thanked everyone who participated in the drive. "This will be a long war against [climate change]," he said, adding: "We must first make Pakistan green by growing trees."
The premier said we "must not leave any space empty without trees there" and that he had communicated the same to all the chief secretaries of the provinces.
He also urged the nation to not stop at planting trees, and also exhibit the same spirit to keep the country's seas and rivers clean.
PM Imran, while lauding the enthusiasm displayed by the Tiger Force throughout the campaign, also appreciated their efforts to spread awareness regarding coronavirus throughout the country.
"Pakistan is one of the very few countries in the world which has successfully done what few could [...] we brought in smart lockdowns and today the world acknowledges our successful strategy," he said.
The premier, however, cautioned against recklessness in the upcoming holy month of Muharram.
"We have been saved from a big calamity but our work is not done [...] whenever you go out, please wear your face masks," he stressed.
"I see you are out in the public and some of you are not wearing face masks."
In a message earlier in the day, the prime minister had said he has also asked the members of parliament, ministers and chief ministers to participate in the plantation drive.
Expressing hope that the drive will turn into the "biggest tree planting campaign" in history, he said: “The target is 35 lakh trees in a day, though we will try to exceed it.”
During the plantation drive, volunteers were divided into different teams to dispense their duties.
Following the prime minister’s directives, the distribution of 3,500,000 saplings was completed to be planted today.
Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Usman Dar in his message ahead of the campaign, asked opposition politicians Shehbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto, Khawaja Asif and others to join the plantation drive.
“The Sindh government should [join us in] favour of national interest,” the politician had said.
Dar said the prime minister will also be in the field along with other volunteers and the general public tomorrow, adding the drive will begin from Islamabad under the premier, while CM Punjab Usman Buzdar will commence it from Sialkot.
He added that civil society, district administration, forestry department and the citizenry should work together to make the campaign successful.
Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while addressing a press conference on Saturday said the premier would plant a sapling in Korang, Islamabad.
The advisor said all provinces, including Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory will participate in plantation campaign, with one million members of Tiger Force joining the campaign.
“A target of 300,000 trees for plantation has been set for Sindh, 1.2 million for Punjab and two million trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said. “In the federal capital, around 1.2 million saplings would be planted under the initiative.”
The adviser noted that the first billion trees' target under Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative was going to be achieved by June 2021 as the stocks of saplings were augmented from 50 million to 300 million.
These saplings would be sufficient to meet the massive afforestation initiative.
Aslam added that Pakistan was the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change in the world and it is was our responsibility to act now.
Referring to a World Bank report on climate change, Aslam said if action was not taken, six districts of Pakistan would be under threat to become uninhabitable till 2050. These districts include; Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpur Khas, Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan.
Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul urged the youth of the country to come forward and plant maximum trees on "Plant for Pakistan Day" to achieve the overwhelming plantation target of 3.5 million plants under 10 Billion Tree Tsunami initiative.
In her video message on Twitter, Gul said PM Imran was going to launch the largest ever one-day plantation of the country on Sunday.
“I have a belief that whenever our youth joins any movement it becomes successful. I request the youth to fully participate in the one-day plantation to make it a success,” she said.