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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan plans to lodge a complaint against India at the United Nations, accusing it of “eco-terrorism” over air strikes that damaged pine trees and brought the nuclear-armed nations to blows.

Adviser to the Prime Mini­ster on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Friday said that recent air strikes inside Pakistan by India had caused massive damage to the government’s Billion Tree Tsun­ami nature reserve.

“Causing harm to the environment and damaging trees and birds comes under eco-terrorism. Pakistan under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government takes its trees very seriously,” the advisor on climate change said.

International and local journalists also visited the damaged site and they have confirmed that the payload dropped by Indian Air Force had damaged several trees in the areas and killed wildlife.

According to Reuters, reporters who visited the site of the bombings — where four large craters could be seen — said that up to 15 pine trees had been brought down by the blasts. Villagers dismissed Indian claims that hundreds of militants were killed.

The adviser added that Pakistan valued its nature, especially its forests nurturing under the Billion Tree Tsunami. These forests are not only local but also globally recognised and valued assets.

He said that all international organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Economic Forum (WEF) and even National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), had acknowledged the value of this asset.

“Indian jets in the so-called ‘surgical strike’ dumped their payload onto a patch of reserve forest, which caused a lot of environmental damage to the age-old forests as well as the undergoing natural re-growth. This is an act of eco-terrorism under the international law and after assessing the damage to nature, which is currently being done, Pakistan will raise this act of violence and aggression at all relevant international forums, including the UN,” Mr Aslam said.

He maintained that after the successful completion of the Billion Tree Tsunami in Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa, the government had anno­unced planting 10 billion trees over the next five years.

Prime Minister Khan also initiated the Spring Tree Plantation in this regard early last month in Baloki, Punjab, where an encroached land had been converted into a nature reserve forest and wildlife sanctuary, the adviser said.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019