'Pakistan's environment silent victim of Indian aggression,' says demarche sent to UN

15 Mar 2019


A picture showing damage caused to trees by the Indian strike. —ISPR
A picture showing damage caused to trees by the Indian strike. —ISPR
Part of the forest reserve now lies in ruins. — ISPR
Part of the forest reserve now lies in ruins. — ISPR
Several trees were uprooted by the "payload" that was dropped by Indian aircraft. — ISPR
Several trees were uprooted by the "payload" that was dropped by Indian aircraft. — ISPR

The Ministry of Climate Change, on behalf of the government, on Friday lodged an official complaint with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) against what it described as India's "strike against nature" on Pakistani soil.

A letter, penned by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan, apprised the global authority of the facts surrounding the illegal incursion into Pakistan by the Indian Air Force on February 26 and the resultant damage to natural assets.

According to the demarche, the "payload" dropped by Indian military aircraft fell into an area which is a forest reserve enjoying legal protections under Section 20 of The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Ordinance, 2002.

The advisor noted that the damage caused to such a forest is punishable under Section 26 of the law, which entails imprisonment of up to two years with a minimum of one year imprisonment if the damage exceeds a value of Rs100,000.

The letter also sought to highlight that the impacted forest area was an enclosure in the ongoing Billion Tree Tsunami (BTT) project of the KP government, which has successfully restored 600,000 hectares of forest area thus far.

It went on to state that the BTT project has received global recognition by international environmental bodies, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) — of which the advisor is global vice president —, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Additionally, it reminded the authority that the BTT initiative under the Global "Bonn Challenge" became the first entity to have met its target.

The demarche further notified the UN that an expert group was tasked by the Ministry of Climate Change with carrying out an independent "Natural Resource Damage Assessment" of the impacted site. The expert group included technical hands from international organisations, including the IUCN and WWF, which has "brought out losses in carbon sink as well as destruction of valued biodiversity".

It further stressed that the "brazen attack" by India on one of the country's most precious and prized natural assets cannot be considered anything short of "eco-terrorism", which is defined as the "destruction or the threat of destruction of the environment by states, groups, or individuals in order to intimidate or to coerce governments or civilians" by Encyclopedia Britannica.

Take a look: Images show Balakot buildings intact at scene of Indian attack

Besides the above, the demarche has also cited global norms such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, particularly Article 8 (2)(a)(iv) as well as Article 8 (2) b (ii) and (iv) which, when read together, constitute the perpetration of the act as a serious "war crime".

Furthermore, according to Articles 35(3) and 55(1) of Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, warfare that may "cause widespread, long term and severe damage to the natural environment" and "attacks against the natural environment during warfare" are clearly prohibited.

"The globally accepted conventions stand openly breached by this Indian incursion," the PM's advisor has argued in the letter to the UN.

"Quite clearly, India chose to surgically target Pakistan's natural assets to reign terror in an area of global natural significance," he further asserted.

The advisor, in the demarche, went on to state that these pristine protected areas were "subjected to an aggression which is against the spirit of valuing nature and for which the entire planet is in unison for protection".

"Pakistan's environment was the silent victim of this insanity and aggression, which questions India's commitments and obligations under various international conventions," the letter firmly stated.

Given the above-mentioned the facts, Pakistan has sought the following actions for redressal, quoted verbatim:

  1. This "strike against nature" be ostracised and condemned across the global community which values nature.
  2. The person who authorised this illegal act, Narendra Modi, be stripped of the "Champion of Earth" title bestowed upon him by UNEP, as his actions clearly contradict his "green" rhetoric.