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Pakistan’s Environmental woes add to its Terrorism-Funding Issues

In addition to conducting an attrition war against India, Pakistan has serious environmental issues which the World Bank report in 2013 had expressed serious concerns, stating that Pakistan’s top environmental issues include air pollution, inadequate supply of potable water, noise pollution and the health deterioration of urban and rural populations due to pollution. These environmental concerns not only harm the Pakistani citizens, but also pose a serious threat to the country’s economy.

In 1997, the government of Pakistan enacted the ‘Pakistan Environmental Protection’ Act to safeguard, conserve, rehabilitate and improve the environment of the country through sustainable development measures, such as pollution control. The Pakistan Environmental Protection Council, which was first that had been established in 1984, was also reconstituted following the enactment of the 1997 legislation. Its main function is to supervise the implementation of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act. A few more agencies that deal with the ecological issues of Pakistan are listed below.

  • Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency
    Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (formerly known as ENERCON)
  • Pakistan Forest Institute
  • National Council for Conservation of Wildlife
  • The Zoological Survey Department of Pakistan
  • Akhtar Hameed Khan National Centre for Rural Development & Municipal Administration

But have these agencies been able to steer Pakistan towards a sustainable and green economy in the 21st century? The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is an International ranking body that ranks countries on their environmental health and sustainability.

It was started in 2002 by World Economic Forum in association with the Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy and the Columbia University Centre for International Earth Science Information Network. It is a biennial index that aims to supplement the environmental targets of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and provide a data-driven summary of the state of sustainability around the world. EPI ranks 180 countries on climate change performance, environmental health, and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national scale of how close those countries are progressing to achieve established environmental policy targets.

Experts of Pakistan’s environmental concerns say that degradation of natural resources, soil erosion, deforestation, unbridled and unplanned urbanization and contamination of ground water resources are some of the major and serious issues that need immediate attention from the government of Pakistan and to addressing them. The country is facing an acute water scarcity, with experts are saying the country could run out of water by 2040, if the concerned authorities don’t take long-term measures to deal with the issues. Researchers predict that Pakistan is on its way to becoming the most water-stressed country in the region.

Also, the most crucial challenges for Pakistan include the impacts of climate change — floods, heat waves, drought, crop losses and diseases — whose frequency has increased rapidly over the past couple of decades. Every year Pakistan loses almost 27,000 hectares of natural forest area, that almost three-quarters of the country’s population use forest resources for a lack of alternative energy resources. Although, the government has launched multiple tree plantation drives in Pakistan over the past few years to overcome this problem, for example, the ‘One Billion Trees’ initiative undertaken by the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is also a noteworthy achievement to address this all important shortcoming. Similarly the ‘Karachi Cleanliness Drive’, another glaring example of how Pakistan should take tangible steps to deal with its environmental issues.

The noise pollution is another serious threat the environmental conservation efforts are battling with. Pressure horns and factories cause noise pollution. The noise pollution can lead to psychological complications, thus disrupting social relationships. Again, the issue is with non-implementation and compliance with laws of the country. All provincial and federal governments in Pakistan have banned the use of plastic bags, but citizens do not seem adhering to the laws. The release of toxic gases from factories, brick kilns and carbon emission from transport vehicles are the prime causes for air pollution.

Another important environmental issue that threaten Pakistan is waste management. The country’s factories and hospitals dispose thousands of tons of their waste into the oceans, lakes and rivers, which are life-threatening for aquatic and human life who are dependent on these water resources. Similarly, lack of proper mechanism, allocated landfills sites and negligence by local municipal corporations and public are main cause of wastes dumped openly on roads and streets of Pakistan.

Pakistan needs a green economic model. It should scrap all big hydropower and coal-power projects and switch on to renewable energy source such as wind and solar power, which are viable for developing countries in the long-run. Pakistan has the complete set of environmental laws, but the government and citizens lack the will to implement and follow those laws accordingly

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