PM launches 'Clean Green Pakistan Index' to address air pollution

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses the launch of "Clean Green Pakistan Index" in Islamabad on Nov. 25, 2019. (PID)
Updated 25 November 2019

PM launches 'Clean Green Pakistan Index' to address air pollution

  • The index has been initially launched in 19 cities
  • Environmental experts say the step is merely a ‘cosmetic’ one

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched the Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI), the country’s first barometer to measure cleanliness indicators in different cities and promote competition between them.
Major cities in Pakistan, including Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi, have been ranked among the most polluted cities in the world year after year. During Pakistan’s so-called ‘fifth’ smog season – from October to January – the air quality in these cities reaches hazardous levels, with Amnesty International issuing an ‘urgent action warning’ for Lahore last week.
“Every segment of society should become part of this campaign to curb the adverse effects of climate change and protect the future of the country,” Prime Minister Khan said while speaking at the launch ceremony of the index at Jinnah Convention Center.
The prime minister said that air pollution was a silent killer and his government was identifying specific areas in different cities for tree plantation, and added the government would also allocate sufficient funds for the campaign.
“Elected representatives at the village level will be made part of regional level competitions on environmental indicators,” he said, referring to competitions slated to be held among different cities to gauge their performance and allocate funds.
The CGPI has been initially launched for 19 cities including Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Okara and Bahawalpur, and will later be expanded to other cities as well. These cities will be assessed on addressing issues such as safe drinking water, solid waste management, liquid waste management, city beautification, cleanliness of streets, parks, tree plantation, sanitation and community participation.
The initiative is part of the government’s campaign of clean and green Pakistan that includes the plantation of ten billion trees across the country in five years to increase forest cover and curb environmental degradation. According to The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals, air pollution in Pakistan leads to the deaths of 135,000 people, mostly children, every year.
Prolonged exposure to the toxic air can result in severe health issues including asthma, lung damage, bronchial infections and heart problems and shortens life expectancy – putting at risk people’s rights to life and to health, as well as the right to a healthy environment, according to Amnesty International.
Khan said that in Lahore alone, around 70 percent of the city’s tree cover had been lost in the name of development. He said rising air pollution and toxic smog was now taking a heavy toll on human lives as no measures had been initiated to curb the menace.
“This was bound to have an impact [on human life],” Khan said, and promised to reverse the tide through public participation.
But environmental experts remain skeptical about the efficacy of the government’s environmental index and said the initiative did not address the root causes of the problem.
“This is a cosmetic step and will hardly help curb increasing pollution in the cities,” Ahmad Rafay Alam, a Lahore-based environmental lawyer and activist, told Arab News.
Alam urged the government to cut consumption of fossil fuels [diesel and coal] being used in electricity generation, transportation and industry to improve the air quality and deal with adverse impacts of climate change. 
“We need to switch to renewables like wind and solar to fulfil our energy demands, and improve air quality,” he said.


Indian diplomat summoned over misrepresentation of Pakistan’s minority affairs — FO

Updated 19 January 2020

Indian diplomat summoned over misrepresentation of Pakistan’s minority affairs — FO

  • A Sikh man was killed in Peshawar on Jan. 11 on his fiancee’s order, according to police
  • India condemned the killing and claimed it was an attack on minorities in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office summoned a senior Indian diplomat on Saturday over what it sees as New Delhi’s deliberately false portrayal of the state of minority affairs in Pakistan.
“The authorities in India were urged to refrain from feigning concern for minorities elsewhere for narrow political agenda; focus on putting their own house in order,” the Foreign Office said in a statement on Saturday evening.
The Foreign Office move comes after India has condemned the killing of Sikh man Parvender Singh in Peshawar on Jan. 11. 
According to police reports the murder was ordered by Singh’s fiancee over personal reasons.
Singh’s family has since then spoken out in defense of Pakistan, and iterated that they have never received threats in their hometown in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where they have lived for nine decades.
The Indian government has been facing since December last year violent protests over its new citizenship laws, which are widely seen as targeting the country’s Muslim community.