March 2020




AFP March 16, 2020

MUSCAT: Oman will ban single-use plastic bags starting next year as part of efforts to reduce pollution and protect the environment, Muscat announced on Sunday.

Located in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman stands out among its Gulf neighbours for its exceptional natural mountainous landscapes and rich marine life.

“Companies and establishments are prohibited from using single-use plastic bags with the aim to protect the Omani environment,” the ministry of environment and climate affairs said in a statement.

It warned that violators would face fines of up to 2,000 Omani rials (4,600 euros) when the ban takes effect on January 1, 2021, with repeat offenders “getting fined double the amount”.

According to the United Nations, Oman — which had become renowned as a travel destination for its desert camping and turtle-watching — attracted 2.3 million tourists in 2018.

“Plastic bags are often ingested by turtles and dolphins who mistake them for food,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned.

“High concentrations of plastic materials, particularly plastic bags, have been found blocking the airways and stomachs of hundreds of species.” A number of countries, including recently the United Arab Emirates, have taken measures to curb single-use plastic bags.

Last week, Abu Dhabi announced it aims to ban their use in the UAE capital by 2021.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2020


By RECORDER REPORT on March 18, 2020

Crackdown on polythene plastic shopping bags by the district administration of Peshawar is being continued as 1,200 kilograms of plastic bags were seized in different localities.

On the directives of the Deputy Commissioner, Mohammad Ali Asghar, the Assistant Commissioner of Shah Alam, Dr. Ihteshamul Haq, inspected various shops on Pajgi Road while AC (Mathani), Rizwana Dar carried out checking in Mathani Bazaar and other localities, seized 1,200 kilograms of plastic polythene bags and arrested four shopkeepers.

It is worth mentioning that the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has banned polythene bags and district administration in light of those directives is busy in crackdown against plastic shopping bags.

The Deputy Commissioner (DC) told the trading community to use alternative bio-degradable shopping bags, otherwise stern action would be taken against them. All Additional Assistant Commissioners (AACs) have been issued directives in this regard.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



The Newspaper’s Reporter March 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A review of Pakistan’s forestry sector reveals that almost all natural forest ecosystems in the country are now critically threatened due to widespread negative anthropogenic (originating due to human activity) sources, conversion of natural ecosystems to agriculture and dwellings and unprecedented depletion of forests, it emerged recently.

The review, carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, pointed out that no comprehensive assess­ment of this degradation had been carried out with the objective of the ranking of hot spots. The selection criteria for the inclusion of hot spots encompass characteristics like value for species-richness, uniqueness of flora and fauna, economic importance and extent of the threat to ecosystems due to biotic and climatic factors.

Based on the laid down criteria, the report identified numerous habitat and plant associations in the country as hot spots for priority action. The chilgoza forests of Suleman Range in Zhob and Sherani in Balochistan and Dera Ismail Khan and North and South Waziristan Agency and Chitral were threatened due to excessive grazing cutting for fuel and timber, excessive collection of seeds and lopping off branches, which contain future cones.

The juniper forests of Ziarat and Kalat, which were extremely slow-growing and some trees were 1,500 years old, were facing pressure for grazing and fuelwood collection. The riverine forests of Sukkur were under threat due to decreased inundation and over-grazing, and shisham dieback (a fungal tree disease).

The mangrove forests of Karachi were subject to heavy human pressure and ecological changes, reduced freshwater from upstream, excessive grazing and fuel-wood cutting and habitat fragmentation.

According to the FAO report, Pakistan was a forest-poor country with a small area of 4.478 million ha (5.1 per cent), under forests. This amounts to 0.021 ha per person, compared to the world average of 1 ha/person.

Contribution of the forestry sector to the GNP and GDP as per official estimates seems quite insignificant primarily because of a multitude of non-timber forest products and non-tangible environmental and ecological benefits of the forests were not taken into account.

The forest policy formulation process in Pakistan has mostly remained top-down and autocratic. The policy guidelines were traditionally formulated by the office of Inspector-General of Forest, thus this bureaucratic policy formulation process failed to involve real stakeholders and to avail the support of political leadership for its optimum implementation especially about resource allocation.

Almost all the forest policies of Pakistan failed to place requisite focus on providing and sustaining livelihood to local communities.

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2020


Jamal Shahid 3/12/2020 12:00:00 AM

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Wednesday presented a shield and flowers to Aerospace Engineer Dr Sarah Qureshi for her contribution to reducing carbon foot prints.

Dr Sara Qureshi developed a pollution free engine for airplanes which will help in reducing global warming as well as creating ar tificial rain.

Dr Sarah Qureshi briefed the Committee about her achievements and work. Dr Sarah Qureshi, is the CEO of Aero Engine Craft.

She holds a Masters degree in Aerospace Dynamics as well as a PhD in Aerospace Propulsion from Cranfield University, United Kingdom.

Her development has taken the global Aerospace Industry by storm.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sarah Qureshi said time was a crucial factor for progress in technology, and in order to move ahead in the science and technology sector, Pakistan must ensure that processes are formulated to save time.

She said: `In the technol-ogy sector, the fast will eat the slow. There is a dire need for commercialisation of technology projects in Pakistan.` The committee lamented the numerous problems young researchers face in the country.

The committee noted that there were no platforms for relevant departments to access researchers and scientists. They also observed that there was no national database that contains detailed research work and papers published.

`To make matters worse, rules are so stringent that they cause more hindrances than facilitating scientists.

There is also no funding for research and development, which is quite discouraging for the scientists, including Dr Sara Qureshi. Her work has been recognised by the outside world before her country acknowledges it.

This committee has invited her to acclaim her contribution,` said Chairman of the committee Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan.

He directed all depart-ments concerned to assist her and utilise her expertise in aerospace technologies.

While discussing compliance report on recommendations submitted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the committee expressed displeasure over lack of preparedness of its officials.

While reviewing individual cases, the committee directed the ministry that inquiry reports must be submitted to the committee.

While reviewing budgetary allocations, the committee recommended a detailed review in the next meeting in the presence of Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology. Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan objected to the slow release and utilization of funds. He deemed this a major concern and the main reason for slow progress of science and technology in the country.

The meeting learnt that nine out of the 16 departments under the ministry are without heads which was a major cause for slow progress by the ministry.-Jamal Shahid


By RECORDER REPORT on March 12, 2020

The Met Office Wednesday forecast a sandstorm for parts of lower Sindh, including Karachi in next 24 hours. The Met Office said another strong westerly weather system is likely to produce more rains for next 2-3 days, until Friday (March 13).

Karachi is expected to witness dust raising gusty winds on Thursday, as its temperature may range up to 18 degrees Celsius and humidity 35 percent. Weather is likely to remain dry over the next 24 hours, it added.

A Sindh government’s handout said that the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Rehabilitation Department will remain alert to provide emergency services.

The Met said that the new weather system is expected to unleash more rains in upper and central parts of the country through Friday. It said that widespread rain/wind thunderstorm with (snowfall over the hills) is expected in all districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad, Punjab from till Friday. Hail storm is also expected at few places during the period.

Rain wind-thunderstorm (with isolated heavy falls) is also expected in Quetta, Zhob, Pashin, Harnai, Qila Abdullah, Qila Saifullah, Panjgur, Ziarat, Kalat, Mastung till Thursday. Dust storm is also expected in lower Sindh including Karachi during the period.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


A Correspondent March 14, 2020

The Russian hunter with his trophy in Sikandarabad, Nagar.—Dawn

GILGIT: Russian citizen Shirokov Evgeny hunted Astore Markhor in Sikandarabad valley of Nagar on Thursday, making it the fourth hunt of the ongoing trophy hunting programme in Gilgit-Baltistan and the first in the district. According to wildlife department officials, Mr Evgeny had paid 82,500 US dollars permit fee for the 49-inch-long horn-sized hunt.

Four permits were issued for the highest-rated markhor hunt for the current season. The Russian shot dead the animal at distance of 700 feet on a mountain in Nilt village.

“Ten local climbers brought the trophy down to the village two days after the hunt. Later, a ceremony was held in the honor of the foreign hunter in Sikandarabad arranged by local conservation committee.

The Russian appreciated the support of local community in the successful hunt. He said the body structure of Nagar markhor was different from others.

Ayub Waziri, a conservation committee member and president of Nagar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said 80 per cent fee of the trophy hunting would be utilised on conservation of wildlife in the area, and the remaining would go to the government. He said the conservation area of the district would be extended further as the local community had been mobilised to stop illegal hunting.

Nagar district is habitat of rare species, including markhor, ibex and blue sheep.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2020



Jamal Shahid Updated March 04, 2020

Kyrgyz Ambassador Erik Beishembiev, diplomats and the vice chancellor of FAST National University unveil the snow leopard mascot plaque at the university premises on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam met a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and discussed measures to save houbara bustard from extinction by indiscriminate hunting.

“While the local houbara bustard has almost gone extinct, the Houbara Fund International (HFI) has offered to help revive its population,” Mr Aslam told Dawn after meeting Majed Al Mansoori, who headed the delegation of HFI.

According to the adviser, Pakistan and UAE will collaborate to reintroduce the Asian houbara bustard in its local habitat in Pakistan.

“The resident houbara bustard of Pakistan is at the edge of extinction. The UAE took its bloodline to its captive breeding centre in Abu Dhabi and is now reintroducing a number of captive bred birds into Pakistan’s local habitat,” he said.

However, conservationists argue that it will take several years to restore the population after captive bred houbara bustard are introduced into the wild.

Abu Dhabi reintroducing a number of captive bred birds in Pakistan’s habitat, PM’s adviser says

“Captive bred houbara bustard cannot be simply released in the wild and not looked after. They become easy prey to foxes, jackals and other predators.

“They also need to be introduced into the wild at the right time when migratory houbara bustard pass through Pakistan to ensure their survival,” a conservationist in the Ministry of Climate Change told Dawn.

Mr Aslam said Pakistan’s ecosystem was blessed with a rare breed of snow leopard. The protection and conservation of the ecosystem it lives in is among priorities areas.

He stated this while speaking at an event held in connection with the World Wildlife Day with particular focus on conservation of the endangered snow leopard.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Climate Change and the Snow Leopard Foundation at FAST National University.

Mr Amin told the participants that Pakistan Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (PSLEP) programme launched by his ministry was among the three foreign funded projects that aimed at biodiversity and environment restoration in Pakistan.

“Through these projects, we are conserving the wildlife not just in Pakistan but also in the habitat areas,” he added.

He said the ministry would extend National Nature Internships to the youth to partake foreign funded projects aimed at environment conservation, wildlife protection and habitat restoration in the country.

The adviser congratulated the management and students of FAST University for contributing in the conservation efforts and launching the snow leopard mascot.

He emphasised working collectively to tackle the challenges of climate change and its impacts on ecosystems.

He also spoke about measures taken by the government to protect biodiversity and wildlife through ecotourism.

Mr Aslam said Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon launch the Green Youth Movement designed and structured for capacity building of the youth.

“The internship programme will help the youth join and learn from the foreign funded projects like PSLEP, Zero Emissions Metro Bus in Karachi and Climate Smart Agriculture.

“These projects are of high significance that will help increase their abilities and generate innovative ideas,” the adviser added.

Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic Erik Beishembiev highlighted the importance of protecting snow leopards.

Tree plantation and a documentary highlighting the tourist aspect of the Kyrgyz republic were part of the event.

The adviser and the ambassador of Kyrgyzstan distributed mementos and certificates among diplomats participating in the event and students of FAST University who are members of Generation FAST Snow Leopard Foundation.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2020



QUETTA. Provincial Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove on Tuesday said wildlife is the asset of the province and its protection is a moral responsibility of each individual.

“Unfortunately today, wildlife is in jeopardy due to burgeoning population and industrialization as human beings are invading the habitats of precious animal,” Langove said in a statement on World Wildlife Day.

“Balochistan is considered as a land of wildlife as from Taftan to Hingol numerous rare species of animals exist in our province, but today they are under threat due to our lack of interest and negligence,” he said, adding that the protection of wildlife is a moral obligation.

He said the provincial government has taken measures to secure wildlife in Balochistan. He further said there should be a complete ban on hunting of wildlife in the province. The minister reiterated need to protect the country’s wildlife.


By Our Correspondent | 3/5/2020 12:00:00 AM

SUKKUR: Endangered Indus dolphin faces serious threats to its survival from construction and operation of barrages, depletion of prey base, use of small mesh nets for fishing, increasing pollution and poaching, says Takeaki Sato, senior environment specialist of World Bank.

Mr Sato said during a visit upstream Sukkur Barrage on Wednesday that dolphins moved in the Indus River from the sea upstream till the Himalayas but after construction of barrages the river had been fragmented in compartments and thereby confined the dolphin`s movement.

Shortages of water between the compartments also pushed dolphins` movement in deep waters between Guddu and Sukkur barrages, he said.

He said that based on historic pattern of decline, Indus dolphin population was most likely to decline or disappear, from reaches with low river discharge, particularly between Sukkur and Kotri barrages.

He said that dolphin might remain in deeper portions of the canal but during annual closures reduction in water level resulted in dolphin mortality unless they were rescued. Over-exploitation ofsmall fish in the river by widespread use of small mesh nets had also adversely affected the prey base of dolphin, he said.

He said that fishing nets were commonly deployed for extended periods of time, including overnight which could result in dolphins` entanglement and mortal-ity. Illegal fishing through the use of pesticides also created harmful effects on the dolphin population, he said.

He said that pollution was suspected to inhibit population increase of the dolphin. Untreated sewage, especially from major towns along the river, was directlycontributing to this pollution and so did other domestic, agricultural and industrial pollution.

About poaching, he said the dolphin was sought after and killed for oil and meat used in traditional medicines until early 1970s when a law was imposed to ban its hunting. Although poaching activitieshad dramatically decreased since the ban, poaching still occurred sporadically, he said.

Mr Sato said that keeping in view the threats to the dolphin, Sindh Barrages Improvement Project (SBIP) funded by World Bank was financially supporting Sindh Wildlife Department for population survey and rescue programmes of the dolphin.

He said that rehabilitation of Indus Dolphin Centre, main complex of wildlife department at Sukkur, and Dolphin Watch Tower for tourists would be established.

He visited the site of Rahuja nursery of forest department near Sukkur and exchanged views with officials, urging them to give top priority to indigenous species for plantation and avoid the exotic ones.

He said that financial support would be provided to SBIP to enhance forest nurseries in public parks so that common citizens could visit them and learn to love their environment.

The WB official also visited Sundrani and Jahanpur forests in Ghotki district and supported forestation in the riverine area to control erosion and enhance riverine ecosystem.

Mr Sato was accompanied by deputy director environment of SBIP Dr Ali Mahesar and other relevant of ficials.


By RECORDER REPORT on March 5, 2020

With the collaboration of Forest Department, District Administration Tharparkar and Pak Army Badin Cantt started the Tree Plantation campaign with the slogan as ‘Make Pakistan Clean & Green Program ‘in village Dharar in taluka Mithi.

On this occasion, Deputy Commissioner Tharparkar Dr Shahzad Tahir Thaheem, officers of Forest Department and Pak Army Badin Cant planted the seasonal trees by inaugurating tree campaign in Tharparkar District.

Deputy Commissioner Tharparkar Dr Shahzad Tahir Thaheem said that tress are the beauty of nature they make our atmosphere clean and green and also put the good impacts on the climate changes so it is our responsibility that from all of us should have to plant the trees for making Thar clean and Green. He also emphasizes the villagers that after planting the tress they must have to care of them as like their children and family members.

The Sub Divisional forest officer Range Management conservator Mir Muzafar Talpur and District Forest officer Tharparkar Sharjeel Memon informed that in this campaign 0.1 million plants are targeted to plant in the District Tharparkar and from today the campaign is start by planting 500 seasonal plants in the village Dharar taluka Mithi.

Deputy Director Social Welfare Natho Khan Rahimon, Malji Mal, District officer Secondary Education Tharparkar Ghulam Nabi Sahar, Vice Principal Army Public School Mithi Asadullah Kakepota, DHO Office Dr Khalid Hussain Farash and other officers were present on this occasion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020


By News desk -March 6, 2020

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Housing Department has decided to start plantation drive in the province from Monday, March 09.

The plantation drive would be attended by Minister for Housing Dr Amjad Ali along with officers and other staff of the department. Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan would also be invited for the drive.

According to Housing Minister Dr Amjad Ali “the Department will plant 10,000 saplings under clean and green Pakistan drive in a single day at Jalozai Housing Scheme” adding that “ an overall 20,000 saplings would be planted in various housing schemes in the province”.


By ​ Our Correspondent Published: March 6, 2020

QUETTA: Provincial Secretary Environment Abdul Saboor Kakar has said the ban on polythene (plastic) bags has been enforced in different parts of province. The Supreme Court and High Court have also given clear orders in this regard, he added.

He expressed his views while presiding over a meeting held in the Deputy Commissioner’s Quetta office regarding the pollution caused by plastic bags. The meeting also discussed preventive measures in this regard and emphasised the need to spread public awareness.

Deputy Commissioner Quetta Major Retired Aurangzeb Badini, AC (City) Nida Kazmi, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Saqib Kakar, Administrator Metropolitan Tariq Mengal, President Trader Association, representatives of various NGOs and public relations organisations were also present on the occasion.

Secretary Environment said that plastic bags are harmful as they do not decay for several hundred years; it not only destroys the environment but also gives rise to other problems such as drainage, garbage dumps and area deformation, he said.

“In addition to its detrimental effects on human health, it can also be attributed to fatal diseases such as cancer. We have to take concrete steps to protect our environment and the lives of the people and the generations to come,” Kakar said.

He further added that shipment of plastic bags from overseas or other provinces will be stopped with the help of customs and FC. “The use of clothing bags and degradable plastic bags instead of throwaway carriers will be ensured,” he added.

He urged all stakeholders to unite on one page and work for a healthy environment.

“With NGOs and other institutions playing their key role, the government of Balochistan has been taking this issue seriously and under all circumstances, one million clothing bags will be distributed among the people to replace plastic bags,” he said, adding that a special campaign is also being organised to raise awareness among the people through social media, electronic and print media and other sources.

“Quetta’s major shopping malls and departmental stores will soon promote clothing bags and will abandon plastic,” Kakar added.

Various NGOs have also presented their services to eliminate plastic bags.

Later, all stakeholders in the meeting agreed to take all steps to eliminate plastic bags in order to secure the environment.

Earlier, Balochistan Minister for Environment, Livestock and Dairy Development Mitha Khan Kakar said the government has devised a three-phase strategy to free the provincial capital from plastic bags under the initiative of Plastic Free Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2020.


The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter Updated March 07, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday extended its ban on the use of plastic bags to all stores, bakeries and hotels of the provincial metropolis giving them two-week time for the compliance.

Justice Shahid Karim observed that the scope of the ban would be expanded to other cities of Punjab province in the second phase.

The judge was hearing a public interest petition represented by Barrister Abuzar Salman Niazi when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) filed its compliance report on enforcement of the ban in mega stores and bakeries.

The petitioner’s counsel pointed out that several hotels in the city had also been using plastic bags.

The judge directed the EPA to ensure ban on the use of polythene bags at all stores, bakeries and hotels of the city after a grace period of two weeks.

Meanwhile, lawyers of different bottled water manufacturing companies made their appearance as the judge, on the last hearing, had issued notices to them for selling water in plastic bottles.

“The court will need your assistance on growing use of glass bottles in many parts of the world,” Justice Karim said to Advocate Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Pepsi.

The counsel assured the court of his best assistance in the matter.

The judge asked the counsel for the water companies to tell the court, on the next hearing, as to how long it would take to abandon the use of plastic bottles.

Justice Karim had previously observed that the whole world had already given up selling water in plastic bottles and switched to glass.

Further hearing was adjourned till March 13.

Paragon scam: An accountability court on Friday adjourned trial proceedings of the Paragon City scam against former railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafiq and his brother former provincial minister Khwaja Salman Rafiq.

The jail officials produced the two brothers before the court while former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt, an approver in the case, did not appear due to health reasons.

A NAB prosecutor told the court that the former MPA was brought in an ambulance on the last hearing.

The court directed the prosecutor to submit fresh medical reports of Butt and adjourned hearing till March 19. The NAB accused the Khwaja brothers of wrongfully gaining Rs18.2 million approximately from M/s Paragon City (pvt) Limited in their bank accounts. It said the Khwaja brothers through their “benamidars” and with the abettment of former MPA Qaiser Amin Butt and Nadeem Zia established a housing project in the name of Air Avenue.

It said the suspects along with other accomplices cheated public at large and obtained illegal financial benefits from the funds of the illegal society.

Meanwhile, a duty judge also adjourned till March 19 the hearing of money laundering/illegal assets and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases against Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz.

Hamza was brought to the court under strict security arrangements.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif had been exempted from personal appearance by the court in the sugar mills case.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2020


The Newspaper’s Correspondent March 08, 2020

THE wild cat’s carcass with rope tied round its neck in Ahmed Samoo village.—Dawn

THATTA: A group of villagers killed a wild “fishing cat” — that was on the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature — after a prolonged chase and severe beating in Ahmed Samoo village in the district’s coastal area on Saturday morning.

The villagers Yameen Samoo, Ilyas Samoo and others who took part in the chase told Dawn that they went after the wild cat after it attacked and dragged away a goat from the pen of Mullah Ayaz Atari in early hours of the day.

Armed with sticks and firearms they began to search for the fishing cat through its claw prints and other marks caused by dragging the goat in the soft ground and finally spotted the animal devouring its prey in thick mangroves forest. They overpowered it after throwing nets over it and beating it ruthlessly.

The villagers then put a rope around its neck and dragged it out of the woods but it had already died from the ruthless beating with sticks and suffocation due to the rope, they said.

In 2012, presence of a fishing cat was recorded in the area around Chotiari Dam in Sindh.

Yameen Samoo, an activist, said that during 2010 super flood a small number of fishing cats had roved through violent oceanic currents from India to Thatta coastline probably saddling mangroves trunks and since then villagers spotted them time and again in and around the forest.

He said that the fishing cat lived foremost in the vicinity of wetlands, along rivers, streams, oxbow lakes, swamps and mangroves. This was the second time villagers had killed the rare animal in coastline, he said.

Some villagers said on condition of anonymity that wildlife officials were apprised about the fishing cat’s attacks but no official showed up to gather facts and take administrative steps to save the endangered animal.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2020



PESHAWAR. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa  (K-P) Wildlife Department has sold four permits for Markhor hunting under the Trophy Hunting scheme for a record high revenue of $0.502 million, showing an increase of $160, 500 as compared to previous year’s revenue.

This year during the hunting period started in November 2019 and will continue till end of the current month, the department also set a record for selling a single hunting permit at the rate of $150,000.