PTI’s pre-elections environment policy

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Feb 27, 2013.

Islamabad – Kalabagh dam cannot be made until the government takes the people of Sindh into confidence, Imran Khan, chairman Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI), said on Tuesday.

“If today you try to build the Kalabagh dam without convincing the people of Sindh, Sindh will witness anarchy similar to that in Balochistan,” Khan said.

But if a credible government takes Sindh’s population into confidence, he said, and uses technical experts to help them understand they will not be harmed by the dam, a national consensus could be developed to tackle Pakistan’s water issues.

Khan was speaking at the launch of PTI’s environment policy in Islamabad.

On the same day as the launch of a National Climate Change Policy, the PTI claimed it became the first party ever in the developing world to come up with an environment policy for its manifesto.

The party’s policy aims to achieve sustainable development and improve the quality of environment through a four-step process, explained Malik Amin Aslam, former minister of state for environment and now a PTI leader.

Aslam said PTI will focus on “action not sloganeering” to state the challenges to the environment and solution. Next, it will provide political ownership by including environment in the party constitution and manifesto. Then, PTI will create a political “buy in” to translate environment issues for public and business sector.

The party will finally use its political mandate, public obligation and economic incentive to achieve policy implementation, Aslam said.

The PTI environment policy also promotes mass transport systems through public-private partnerships, clean energy such as hydal power, energy efficient building designs, climate resistant crop varieties and environmental education. Most of the points in the PTI policy resemble measure listed in the National Climate Change Policy.

The PTI policy also predicts creation of five million jobs in five years as a result of turning the economy “green.” The jobs will be created when different sectors adopt eco-friendly measures.

For example, small scale sustainable farming is expected to add 610,000 jobs, Aslam said.

During the questions and answers session, several environmentalists present in the audience raised questions about different issues such as mangroves, troops at Siachen, sustainable mountain development and water intensive environment solutions.

Aslam said 95 per cent of Pakistan’s mangroves are in District Thatta and he alleged that the ruling party has launched a residential project there which would threaten the mangroves.

In response to a question, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen said the party has called for the inclusion of environment awareness material in school textbooks in its education policy.

Earlier, Khan lamented the state of environment in Pakistan. He said deforestation, air quality degradation and water pollution has gone unchecked in the country. Wealthy, influential people are encroaching upon the land of even public parks and there is no one to hold them accountable, he said.

“We are at a stage now where we don’t have an option to ignore the environment,” Khan said. “Just like we might have to announce an education emergency because the state of our public education, we will also have to take severe measures to save the environment.”

He said the environment degradation can be turned out through re-forestation and other measures.

“But this needs political will,” he said. “The government and the people need to make a decision that they want to transform Pakistan into heaven.”

Responding to a question from the media, Khan said PTI has apologized from Express News and other cameramen and the party will take action within 24 hours against whoever was responsible for the ruckus at the Gujranwala (intra-party) elections.

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