One of the things Imran Khan has indisputably gotten right is his prioritization of environmental concerns. Whether it be importing Euro-V Standard Fuel or constructing the Diamer-Bhasha dam, improving the environment is one promise in PTI’s manifesto that Imran Khan got absolutely right. Among these steps, also, is Imran Khan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami.
Under the initiative, Pakistan aims to plant 10 billion trees across the nation in a bid to combat climate change. On Sunday, August 9, PM Imran Khan launched the largest tree plantation drive in the country’s history. The drive was generally successful with a reported 3.5 million trees having been planted in one day. However, there was an incident that occurred in some areas of Khyber which shocked people.
A video went viral showing a number of enraged citizens uprooting about 6,000 saplings that had been planted in utter defiance of the government’s work. While some tried to add a religious spin to this incident and suggest it was being done because the citizens believed it to be “against Islam”, the truth appears to be a bit more complicated and slightly more understandable.
Reports suggest that the incident occurred because the alleged owners of the land had not been adequately consulted by the government. As a result, they felt offended that their permission had not been sought and believed their rights had been violated. While the government tried to negotiate with the protesters on the spot, they were met only with slogans and black flags.
The blame here is hard to divide. While the government is certainly at fault for not having adequately consulted with the people, it is understandable that some minor mistakes would occur on a project as large as the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami. It is more regrettable that the people of the area, rather than negotiate and come to a mutually beneficial compromise, chose to behave in a quite deplorable manner.
Regardless however, it is important not to let this one incident soil the accomplishment. With 3.5 million trees having been successfully planted, it appears Pakistan’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami is well on its way in leading the war against climate change in South Asia.