By Meher Inayat:
From the lush green northern high mountains capped with snow throughout the year and beautiful valleys embedded in the heart of Gilgit, Baltistan to the vibrant seashores down south; Pakistan is blessed with natural beauty and natural resources. However, would the future generation witness the natural beauty of Pakistan and will they be able to enjoy the benefits of the natural resources? As the world is striving to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals which includes bringing environmental sustainability, the question that arises here is where Pakistan stands among all the countries? Pakistan is included in the third world countries because of its economic situation. On the other hand, the major issues today in Pakistan are not having energy generation and the lack of water; however, we do have plenty of coal that can be used to generate electricity which would be an easy way to minimize the demand of power. The Pakistan government and other NGOs have tried to conserve the natural resources in different regions.
One of the major steps taken by the Pakistan government is to promote awareness to guard wildlife through projects like the Himalayan Jungle Project, the Palas Conservation and Development Project (PCDP), the Indus Dolphin Project (IDP), the Marine Turtle Conservation Project etc. We know that there are animals that have become extinct either because of the climate change or due to the harm meted out to them. So, in order to protect the species it is necessary to provide them a favorable environment and be friendly with them. For example, in the Northern part of Pakistan, people used to hunt ibex for food, but the Pakistan government banned the hunting of the mountainous animals. Hunting ibex has had another consequence; when people hunted hundreds of ibex, the tigers came on the mainland and ate cattle because there was a shortage of food for them. Furthermore, hunting animals like tigers, deer, snow leopards, and migratory birds was banned through these projects. So, now people don’t hunt animals in the Northern areas of Pakistan due to which the ibex come on the land too.
Besides that, steps have been taken to conserve forests in Pakistan. According to the Government’s report, the total forest area, including rangelands is 10.5 million hectares, of which 1.4 million are productive forests. According to the FAO documentary report, “Wood for fuel wood is produced from state-owned forests, private farmlands, and waste lands. A study on Household Energy Strategy conducted by the Government with assistance from the World Bank, confirmed that the country’s consumption of fuel wood is high, with about 79% of all the households using fuel wood for cooking (82%), space heating (7.3%), and water heating (9.8%). Fuel wood is also used in the commercial sector by bakeries, restaurants, in ovens and brick kilns, for tobacco curing, in ceramic products manufacturing, food processing, etc.” This essentially means deforestation occurs in Pakistan on a high scale because most of the people depend on forests for fuel, especially in the tribal areas. In order to preserve the forests, commercial plantation on a large scale has been done, watershed rehabilitation through reforestation, increasing tree planting by individuals and communities through social forestry and extension programs, encouraging NGO involvement and increasing the price of fuelwood and timber in the country, and afforestation of sand dunes and sand dune fixation through shelterbelt plantations. So, this shows that few essential steps have been taken to come over deforestation and save the wildlife.
On the other hand, there are other issues that are disrupting the environment. If we talk about saving the natural resources then it entails controlling the usage and misuse of the natural resources. Pakistan is one of the richest countries in terms of natural resources; however, it has failed to manage those natural resources. Our experience from the past few years has remained appalling in terms of management in any sector and in fluctuation in terms of economy. This can be judged from the ongoing situation in the country where people are more concerned about their security than thinking about development. One of the major issues of Pakistan now is energy generation and secondly, agricultural lands are turning into deserts because of the shortage of water. According to Dawn News, Mrs. Shamim Humayun, a renowned academic says, “Geographically speaking, our country has been blessed by countless natural resources. The rivers that come down from the North make the building of dams perfectly feasible, and the amount of coal present in the country along with alternative energy can make Pakistan an exporter of energy if properly utilized. For that, our policies need to be more focused, and energies channeled in the right direction, rather in politicizing every aspect of developmental projects.”
This shows that there is a lack of management in preserving the natural resources and making it beneficial for the country. Today, the population is facing more than 10 hours load shedding in a day which do not only affects the people at home but the companies, factories, industries, and the markets in the cities cannot precede their work due to which the economy of the country gets affected. Many textile industries have been shifted to other countries because of the shortage of energy in the Pakistan. On the other hand, due to not having enough water the agricultural lands are turning into barren lands that are affecting the environment as well as the economy.
So, there is a need of conserving the environment and using the natural resources in a meaningful way. If we are using natural resources then we should find an alternative in order to preserve the environment.