Credit Where Credit Is Due

Unnecessary and ill-timed criticism has become a permanent trait of the country’s political affairs. Criticism for sake of correction is now rare and exceptional. Pointing out errors of the day of the government and paying no heed to its productive measures is an unconditional obligation of our politicians. The difference between questioning and bashing has completely vanished. No one is free from errors so political parties.

In the past, PPP and PML-N have been severely condemned by their opponents due to their flawed and short term policies. But it does not mean they have never done anything good for the country. PPP and PML-N have given important legislations and infrastructures to the country respectively. We consider our birthright to blame them for all ills of the country but when the time comes to recognize their fruitful steps we become dumb. Regrettably, now PTI is going through the same treatment.

PTI is going to complete its first two years of tenure in upcoming August. But it is already under severe criticism due to its economic policies and alleged witch-hunt of political opponents. PTI’s rhetoric over lockdown and policies over pandemic has further invited fierce opprobrium. Repeating history, rivals of PTI government is now labeling it completely incompetent and bewildered. It has still three years for completing its first tenure so declaring it incompetent and failed is also unjust and it is too early to judge. Amid criticism, we are overlooking some highly productive steps of PTI. After assuming power, PTI has launched many initiatives and schemes. One of them ‘Green Stimulus Package” approved a few weeks ago, can be turned out a trademark of PTI’s first tenure. Protection of environment is essential feature of PTI’s constitution.

While addressing the 74th of United Nation General Assembly, Prime minister Imran Khan begun his maiden speech with issue of Climate change and urged international leaders to realize the urgency of environmental issues. Green Stimulus Package is an integral part of PTI’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project. Setting up natural forests, nurseries, fruit, honey, and plantation of tress and olive are glaring goals of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project. Not only it will reduce climate issues by planting trees but it will also create many jobs for unemployed youth in the wake of the pandemic.

World Economic Forum has also hailed the government’s project and called it a win-win situation for the environment and economy. Pakistan is confronting with severe sort of environmental and climate issues. It has been declared the fifth most vulnerable country to environmental change according to the latest report of Global Climate Index. From 1999 to 2018, more than 9,989 human lives have been lost due to extreme threats of climate. Country has also endured loss of $3.8billion in that period.  In its final conclusion of report, the country’s vulnerability towards climate change is ever-increasing.

Similarly, between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan has lost almost 34% of its forest cover, as said by UN FAO. This rampant deforestation has played havoc with the environment, resulting in floods, extreme weather events, and endangerment of numerous species. Thus, in this grim scenario, plantation campaign is a timely and much-needed initiative. Government of the day must be acknowledged for this.

Economy and environment are interlinked in many ways. According to World Economic Forum’s Nature Risk Rising Report 2020, almost 50% of global GDP or USD 44 trillion is highly dependent on nature and its services. Three largest industries i.e. agriculture (USD 2.5 trillion), construction (USD 4 trillion) and food and beverages (USD 1.4 trillion) depend on the environment. By protecting the environment from threats, struggling economy could be revived. Planting trees under the banner of Green Stimulus Pakistan will create 65,000 jobs for unemployed youth. Revitalization of the economy and creating jobs through plantation campaign is not new. In 1930, unemployment rate reached 25% in America due to the Great Depression. To counter it, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) relief program for unemployed young men. Almost 3 million unemployed young men were enrolled for tree plantation in national and state parks. Later on, they were famously known as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army”. Not only it improved forests and national parks but also ramped up economy.  With support of U.S. President Trump, US lawmakers have recently introduced “Trillion Trees Act” in order to plant 24 billion trees over 30 years in the United States.

On the whole, PTI’s green campaign deserves a worthy consideration.  If this project succeeds, it will be a huge triumph of PTI.  Keeping aside political and ideological differences, all political parties and other stake holders need to participate in this campaign. As Prime Minister Imran Khan has early mentioned: it is killing two birds with one stone: giving people employment as well as planting trees.

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