April 02 , 2017

Good news for nation, COAS stands by democracy: Imran

Marriyum says Imran-COAS meeting augurs well

ISLAMABAD: A day after a surprise meeting with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday said the army chief stands by democracy.

“The good news for the nation is that the army chief stands by democracy and that is it,” he said here at a function in connection with the billion tree tsunami drive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, about his rendezvous with General Bajwa on Friday night.

Though the event was organised to discuss the provincial government’s climate change drive, Imran was asked a question about his meeting with the army chief. He responded with a smile on his face, “If I respond to this in detail, the headlines will be dominated by this and no one will talk about climate change”.

Imran had congratulated General Bajwa on his promotion and appointment as the army chief, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet, following the meeting.

Commenting on the ongoing billion tree tsunami campaign, Imran highlighted that the success rate of the billion tree plantation was around 83 percent. “We have planted 800 million trees. The impact of this will go into the next generation,” he maintained.

Imran spoke highly about KP ministers for taking the lead and not backing down in the face of powerful timber mafia in the province. He also pointed out that 60,000 kanals of land worth Rs22 billion had been recovered from the timber mafia. “Billion tree tsunami is just a stepping stone; we wanted to show everyone how this initiative can be executed and from here we will make it much bigger,” Imran contended.

The PTI chairman felt great in mentioning the fact that the federal government was also now taking inspiration from this campaign, and they had pledged to grow 100 million trees in five years.

Imran claimed the KP government had a hands-on approach against climate change. “I am happy that the KP government has taken up this momentous task of dealing with climate change and has taken a hands-on approach towards it,” he maintained throwing light on the measures the KP government is taking to protect its forests from the timber mafia.

On the billion-tree project, Imran emphasised, “I know it is hard to trust our statistics after the government regularly lies to you, but I can assure you the project will end by the end of 2017 and one billion trees will have been planted by that time.”

With regard to the impact of climate change, Imran said that Pakistan had remained oblivious to this threat for a long time and the project, in the long run, would have a positive impact on the generations to come.

Imran said the tree tsunami involved adding trees both by planting and natural regeneration all over the province and it aimed at turning around deforestation and increasing the province’s forested area by at least 2 percent.

Years of ruthless tree felling, he pointed out, had reduced Pakistan’s forests to under 2 percent of its land area, one of the lowest levels in the region, according to a 2015 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report.

About 40 percent of Pakistan’s remaining forests are in KP and in the run-up to preparation for the reforestation effort, the provincial government helped set up a network of tree nurseries across the province in 2016, providing loans and purchase agreements for tree saplings.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said the meeting between Imran and the army chief augurs well.

She advised the PTI chairman to concentrate on plantation of trees, as this would benefit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and there would be progress in the province. The minister was of the view that political parties that had failed to deliver were trying to create election environment in Pakistan.

Marriyum said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now feeling well and all his medical test results are clear.

She said the prime minister had been working tirelessly as he wanted to see completion of all projects by 2018, hence, he was under some stress. The minister explained that the premier had pain in his stomach and he had his checkup conducted at a private hospital in Lahore, earlier in the day on Saturday, and all test results were clear.

“The prime minister had stomach pain since yesterday, but we are thankful to God that all his tests results are clear,” she said. Marriyum added that Nawaz had returned to his Raiwind residence.




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