Pakistan’s prime minister launches Protected Area Initiative, says it will preserve environment for future generations
Launching the Protected Area Initiative on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the government would establish 15 national parks across Pakistan to protect the environment and help combat climate change.
Addressing a meeting to launch the initiative in Islamabad, Khan said the federal government would devise guidelines for all the provinces to establish and preserve such national parks. “This is a major initiative for our future generations,” he said, adding that it would also help protect endangered species.
Khan said that he could remember sites that used to be hubs of environmental diversity in his youth but have since fallen into disarray. “Our previous governments ignored our environment,” he claimed. He said it was heartening that all the provinces wanted to participate in this initiative, adding that the initiative would also generate youth employment.
The prime minister said that global warming and climate change posed a serious threat to future generations of Pakistan, adding that his government had launched its 10-Billion Tree Tsunami plantation drive as a means to counter this risk. Protecting green areas and parks would also help in this endeavor, he added. He urged all the provincial governments to take the threat seriously and implement all steps needed to protect green areas.
Khan said Pakistan boasted a diverse landscape with 12 ecological climatic zones that greatly boosted its eco-tourism potential. He said that the government was reopening the northern areas for tourism to help the economy recover and urged the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to frame laws that would ensure environmental protection. “We also need to work with the local populations to plan the protection of endangered species such as snow leopards,” he said.
The prime minister also condemned the lack of master plans for urban centers of Pakistan and urged authorities concerned to develop such plans for all cities. “Either our cities have no master plans or have ones that are now outdated,” he lamented. “We need to develop these plans [under the Protected Area Initiative] so we can ensure sewerage and water supply for all citizens and to prevent cities from expanding out of control,” he added.