ISLAMABAD: Launching Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI) as part of his government’s efforts to curb pollution and reduce the impact of climate change, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday criticised the previous governments of Punjab for rising pollution in Lahore and nearby cities.

Indirectly lashing out at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that ruled Punjab for over the past decade, PM Khan said: “More than 70 per cent trees in Lahore have been axed and a concrete jungle has been created there over the past decade.”

Speaking at the CGPI launching ceremony, Mr Khan said: “Lahore has reached close to New Delhi in terms of pollution rate, but nobody had thought about it.”

In the initial phase of the CGPI, 19 cities including Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawal­pindi, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Okara and Bahawalpur have been selected to compete on certain issues of public interest. They will be judged on addressing issues such as safe drinking water, solid waste management, liquid waste management, city beautification, cleanliness of streets, usability of parks, tree plantation, total sanitation/hygiene and community participation.

Launches Clean Green Pakistan project with focus on province

The PM reaffirmed his commitment to making Pakistan “clean and green” and urged the masses to join in the efforts. The concept of ‘Naya Pakistan’ will change the country’s destiny, he said. “The change of Naya Pakistan will first come into the minds of people and then on the ground,” he explained.

He recalled that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had planted one billion trees in five years.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that students and youth were being encouraged to join the campaign. Services of people, who would register themselves for and participate in the CGPI, would be rewarded by the government, Mr Aslam announced.

Sharing future plans to protect the environment, the adviser said the government aimed to introduce electric cars to reduce harmful emissions.

He said the government had introduced multiple campaigns and drives to combat climate change, including the billion trees tsunami and Clean Green Pakistan.

MoneyGram

Later, a delegation of MoneyGram, headed by its CEO and Chairman William Alexander Holmes, called on the Prime Minister at PM Office.

Finance Adviser Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood were also attended the meeting.

MoneyGram International Inc. is a globally recognized American money transfer company, which is offering its services at approximately 350,000 agent locations in more than 200 countries. It is facilitating overseas Pakistanis, with its 7,000 partners across the country to send their remittances back home.

Welcoming the interest evinced by MoneyGram International towards expanding its business in Pakistan, PM Khan highlighted significant growth in home remittances, witnessed during the last financial year that he said was expected to further grow in coming years.

The PM also discussed an incentive package, which was under consideration of the government, to attract greater remittances through legal channels.

While briefing Mr Khan about the company’s profile and portfolio in Pakistan, William Alexander Holmes said MoneyGram, in line with the present government vision, was complementing its efforts towards financial inclusion especially encouraging emigrants to utilize formal channels for safe and speedy transactions.

The prime minister assured the delegation that his government would provide all possible facilitation to the company in expanding its business in the country.

Chinese delegation

President of China-Pakistan Friendship Association and former Under Secretary General of the United Nations Ambassador Sha Zukang also called on Prime Minister Khan.

Ambassador Sha is leading a delegation of major Chinese companies visiting Pakistan to explore Pakistan’s business potential and to invest in the country.

The prime minister while welcoming the delegation to Pakistan underscored the closeness and depth of Pakistan-China ties.

Calling CPEC as a transformational project, Mr Khan invited the Chinese companies and investors to invest in diverse sectors in Pakistan.

The PM said the CPEC, a flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, would not only reinforce Pakistan’s economic development but would also contribute to regional prosperity. “Its second phase will focus on industrialisation, agriculture and socio-economic development,” he added.

Ambassador Sha underscored that Pakistan and China were all-weather strategic cooperative partners and their partnership was aimed at promoting peace, development and prosperity in the region. He said the special relationship between the two countries was reflected in expression of warmth by the Chinese people towards Pakistan on every occasion.

He said Chinese investors were confident about Pakistan’s economic potential and expressed the hope that the economic relationship between the countries would reach the level of their excellent political relations.

Ambassador Sha’s delegation includes companies related to real estate, construction, engineering, textile, IT and industrial sectors.

The delegates who visited Peshawar on Monday are also scheduled to visit Lahore, Karachi and Gwadar during which they will meet leading bankers, industrialists, entrepreneurs, financial experts, business chambers, and senior officials to deepen its insights and understanding of the economic opportunities in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2019