Rooting for change: Pakistan begins massive day-long plantation drive

Prime Minister Imran Khan planting a sapling during the plantation drive 2020 on Tiger Force Day in Islamabad on Aug 9, 2020. (PID)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Rooting for change: Pakistan begins massive day-long plantation drive

  • Move to plant 3.5mln saplings part of PM Khan’s concerted efforts for clean and green nation, minister says
  • All provinces roped in for the initiative which will include 682 events across the country

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday began planting 3.5 million saplings across the country as part of an ambitious day-long initiative, under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami program (TBTTP) launched two years ago, his Special Assistant on Climate Change said in a statement.
“One million volunteers from the Tiger Force (group in charge of COVID-19 relief efforts) will plant 3.5 million indigenous fruit and non-fruit tree saplings across the country in close support with the climate change ministry’s TBTTP team and provincial forest departments,” Malik Amin Aslam said on Saturday.
He added that all provinces, including Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad Capital Territory had been roped in for the initiative.

Sunday’s efforts are part of an ongoing five-year program, launched in 2018, which seeks to address issues of global warming and other environmental issues in the country which scientists have linked to climate change.
Aslam said the premier had assigned the highest priority to the TBTTP as part of his vision for a “clean and green Pakistan.”
“Prime Minister Imran Khan recognizes the powerful role of the country’s youth in all socioeconomic sectors, particularly the clean and green initiatives including the TBTTP, launched to achieve environmental sustainability, fight environmental degradation and climate change impacts,” he said.
For the purpose, 682 events have been organized across the country, which will also see the participation of local NGOs, educational institutions and communities.
“Tackling environmental sustainability challenges by nurturing a strong connection of children with nature will help strengthen youth’s connection...and encourage them to play their part in (the) protection and conservation of natural resources,” he said.
As an additional measure, Aslam added, a novel Protected Area Initiative was launched by PM Khan recently as part of the government’s eco-conservation efforts.
“It aims to increase the country’s protected areas cover from 13 percent to 15 percent by 2023 and create 5,000 green jobs across the country that are viewed as crucial in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.


In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

Updated 51 min 56 sec ago

In memory of daughter, Pakistani man runs Dubai desert to raise awareness of ‘newborn screenings’

  • Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder
  • Now he runs to raise awareness and funds for newborn screenings that test babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development

DUBAI: A Pakistani man has run 200 kilometers through the Al-Qudra desert in Dubai last month to raise awareness about “newborn screenings,” the practice of testing babies in their first days of life for disorders that can hinder normal development.
Seven years ago, Akbar Naqvi lost his adopted daughter Zahra Beau Naqvi to an undetected metabolic disorder. Now the owner of a fintech company in Dubai runs to raise awareness, and funds, for newborn screenings so other parents and children don’t have to go through what his family did.
Last month, the 44-year-old ran 42 hours across Al-Qudra in what he described as “the ultimate test of human endurance.” He slept only two hours and only took very short breaks along the way. His run, on August 28-29, coincided with the beginning of Newborn Screening Awareness Month, internationally observed in September.

Akber Naqvi is taking a short rest during his 200-kilometer run across Al-Qudra desert in Dubai on Aug. 28, 2002. (Photo courtesy of Akber Naqvi via AN)

“I ran to raise awareness on the importance of newborn screenings,” Naqvi, who set up the ZB Foundation in Islamabad, told Arab News this week.
Newborn screening is a simple blood test taken from the heel of a child to check for autoimmune disorders.
Naqvi and his wife Danielle Wilson Naqvi realized within their daughter’s first month of life that “something was wrong with Zahra,” Naqvi said.
Doctors were initially unable to diagnose the problem but “we then got a test done and found out that Zahra suffered from a metabolic disorder called glutaric acidemia type 2, which went undiagnosed at birth due to lack of newborn screening,” Naqvi said.
“By the time we found out, it was too late.”
A month after Zahra’s passing, the Dubai-based couple received a call from Pakistan that another baby girl needed parents. They adopted her and soon Danielle also gave birth to twins — a boy and a girl.
But Zahra is continuously present in their memory, they said, inspiring them to help other children survive through the foundation set up in her name.
The ZB Foundation has an agreement with 40 hospitals across Pakistan and has to date conducted over 30,000 free screenings of newborn babies, Naqvi said. It is now coordinating with the government of Pakistan to make newborn screenings compulsory nationwide.
“In Pakistan this test is not mandatory,” Naqvi said, “so if the hospital had the capability, and which is every baby’s right, Zahra’s disorder would have been diagnosed in time.”