PTI declares war against timber smugglers in KP

Published February 7, 2015
PTI chief Imran Khan addressing media persons in Mansehra on Friday. — INP
PTI chief Imran Khan addressing media persons in Mansehra on Friday. — INP

MANSEHRA: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Friday declared war against timber mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying his party wanted to ensure provision of hazards-free environment for the people of the province and the country.

“Today, I declare war against timber mafia and warn politicians and officials to stop supporting timber smugglers as we can sacrifice our government for this cause but would never allow anyone to support timber mafias,” said Mr Khan while speaking at a press conference at Hazara University here.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, PTI provincial president Azam Khan Swati and deputy inspector general of police, Hazara, Akhtar Hayat Gandapur were also present on this occasion.


Imran warns politicians to stop supporting timber mafia


“The timber smugglers have illegally cut trees worth Rs100 billion from our forests during last one decade. Our government is taking concrete steps and will introduce legislation to remove hurdles to ending timber smuggling in the province,” The PTI chairman said. Mr Khan said that for the first time a chief forest conservator was suspended and the anti-corruption establishment issued arrest warrants for him and 15 other officials.

“The chief conservator has moved the Peshawar High Court to avoid arrest, but I would also take up the issue of timber smuggling with the chief justice of Peshawar High Court to dispose of such cases without any delay so that corrupt officials could be taken to task,” said Mr Khan.

He said that the provincial minster for environment and director anti-corruption establishment visited forests in Siren valley and found that 2,500 trees were illegally cut. “We have enough evidence of involvement of timber mafia and black sheep in the forest department who after cutting trees illegally burnt forests to remove traces of their corruption,” he said.

Mr Khan said that the provincial government was going to sign an agreement on carbon points, most probably in December, and avail of grants of millions of dollars annually, which would be spent on addressing problems being faced by the local community. He said that this would create a sense of ownership among them and they would protect the forests.

He said that official guards of forest department would be equipped with arms. “We will also increase salaries of guards and other officials in the forest department besides announcing monetary share for them in confiscated timber,” he announced.

The PTI chief said that a modern satellite system would also be hired to detect illegal forest cutting in Malakand and Hazara divisions. He said that it was unfortunate that currently four per cent areas of the country and 20 per cent of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were under forest, which should be 35 per cent.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that the provincial government would strengthen legislation to curb timber smuggling in an effective way.

“We are going to increase punishment and fines for timber smugglers,” he said.

Mr Khattak said that a meeting of forest owners in the province would be convened soon in Peshawar to evolve the future line of action.

QWP SAYS IT’S EYEWASH: Qaumi Watan Party MPA Mohammad Ibrar Tanoli said on Friday that PTI was not sincere in curbing timber smuggling in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“I am cent per cent sure that whatever Imran Khan is saying about curbing timber smuggling is merely an eyewash because when I had put hand on the big fish involved in timber smuggling he (Mr Khan) sacked me from the ministry,” said Mr Tanoli while speaking to mediapersons in Oghi on Friday.

Mr Tanoli said that Mr Khan had taken notice of cutting of 300 trees in Shinkiari, but he was silent on illegal cutting of over 4,000 trees in Tanawal. He alleged that those trees were cut to make route to the phosphate mines leased by his party’s general secretary Jahangir Tareen.

The QWP lawmaker said that he would soon meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and apprise him of the plunder of local mines by Mr Tareen.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2015

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