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Ex-PM’s parting gift to timber mafia

Published Apr 06, 2013 01:11am


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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File photo

ISLAMABAD, April 5: Just a day before the end of his government’s tenure, former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf allowed transportation of timber worth Rs8 billion from the Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan to the down country.

Since early 1990s, there was a ban on the movement of timber from Gilgit-Baltistan to other parts of the country to check deforestation in the region.

Because of the latest decision, however, the timber mafia has again started cutting woods in the region endangering not only the environment but also increasing the risk of silting in the Tarbela Dam which is fed by the River Indus.

According to documents available with Dawn, on March 15 a notification was issued by the Gilgit-Baltistan Secretariat in Islamabad, which stated: “The prime minister has approved the disposal of legally and illegally cut timber from Diamer to the down country.”

The transportation of the 2.07 million cubic feet legally extracted timber lying in various forests of Diamer has been allowed for transportation to down country as per an agreement between the government and the forest lessees.

“This is subject to permission to ensure that additional timber is not cut without approval of the competent authority.”

The notification further said the illegally cut timber measuring 1.93 million cubic feet shall be released only after imposing a fine of Rs700 per cubic foot for deodar, Rs570 for kail and Rs570 for fir/spruce.

However, 300,000 cubic feet of the wood will be used in Gilgit-Baltistan and for that the fine will be Rs200, Rs180 and Rs100 per cubic foot for deodar, kail and fir/spruce.

The chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan will monitor the whole process so as to ensure transparency. The process of disposal of the timber may be completed within four months.

Khan Mohammad Qureshi, a resident of Chilas in the Diamer district, told Dawn that the issuance of the notification was a conspiracy.

“The timber mafia in the area had started cutting the trees even before the issuance of the notification and is still cutting trees. Some influential groups and political personalities have been involved in the felling of the trees.”

He said the local administration was unable to take any action to stop the deforestation after the approval of the former prime minister.

He said the people of the region had expressed concerns over the illegal cutting of the trees and transportation of the timber out of the area.

They have called upon the chief justice of Pakistan to take a suo motu notice of the issue, he said.

Shabbir Abbasi, the representative of Aas welfare organisation, which is working for the protection of environment, said due to the deforestation incidences of floods had increased in the country.

“Because of the deforestation, silting in the Tarbela Dam will also increase and the country will further face energy crisis.

Even in Islamabad, deforestation is continuing because of the new housing societies but no one is taking action against it,” he said.

Professor Ameer Malik, an environmentalist, said international organisations like WWF and environment protection departments of the United Nations were concerned over environment hazards.

“We have to portray a positive image of Pakistan regarding environment issues because only that is how we can avoid any action or notice of international organisations because they are very sensitive about environment,” he said.


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Comments (80) Closed

Ghalib Khan Apr 07, 2013 08:21am
What can they do if Grapes are Sour.
asgher Apr 07, 2013 08:42am
This is peanut as compared to what he earned in Rental power plant deal...Enemies of the nation are free in the country and Pakistan is a hostage to democracy where a poor farmer has no choice to cast his vote to a theif who becomes the prime minister of the country. This is the real face of democracy...
kirther Apr 07, 2013 07:50pm
Yes but if people don't wake up then the next government could be even more corrupt as experienced in the past.
wonderer Apr 07, 2013 01:07pm
A wonderful idea Sir. An 'independent audit' indeed. Which country would you like to import the auditors from?
Syed Apr 07, 2013 12:54pm
this is a no brainer ... I think someone should step up and overturn the decision. even a fool can see this is wrong..
sraz45 Apr 06, 2013 05:29am
Prosecute these thugs and see to it that they get the punishment they deserve. Then elect new and younger folks, get them to create a new Pakistan, where rule of law is supreme and is truly implemented. Imran Khan is the person to elect the rest should go into the garbage dump of history.
Hassan Apr 06, 2013 05:53am
That will happen when people like Raja Rental who don't deserve even to be a councilor, had Selected as a premier of the country.
RAZA Apr 06, 2013 06:02am
Corruption galore. Raja Rental's last parting gift!!
khanm Apr 06, 2013 06:14am
Chief justice must be quite busy these days... we have other institutions beside judiciary. They need to perform their jobs.... Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.
Indusonian Apr 06, 2013 07:23am
And the surprise is ?
Mustafa Apr 06, 2013 07:25am
Zinda hai bhutto zinda hai
zee Apr 06, 2013 07:39am
I wonder if Bhutto is "zinda", why do they celebrate this death anniversary and why the holiday!?
Dr pervez ul hassan Apr 06, 2013 08:30am
What you expect from a corrupt,illiterate and insensitive PPP politicians,who are ignorant to this fact that the level of damage ,long time adverse affects his this action will cause to environment.Please Vote Imran s PTI , who can bring good change for this country.
S. A. M. Apr 07, 2013 03:22pm
The Departed Soul is requested to please let the people of pakistan know of his response to so many comments. Alas he is in such a such a place that he can only hear our pleas but can't communicate with us.
All Foresters Apr 06, 2013 09:14am
The timber mafia connection is more serious an issue than the vision of the authors of the 18th amendment. Deforestation in Gligit has nothing to do with the provinces of Sindh and Punjab this is what the 18th amendment says because they did not realize that this causes floods and climate change all over the world.
Bilal Mian Apr 06, 2013 09:33am
"The transportation of the 2.07 million cubic feet legally extracted timber lying in various forests of Diamer has been allowed for transportation to down country as per an agreement between the government and the forest lessees."
Akram Apr 06, 2013 09:37am
after they leave office PM's like everyone else should be responsible for the decisions they make. He should be made to justify this order, and of he can't he should be prosecuted.
Forest Mafia Apr 06, 2013 09:38am
Before taking your advice on PTI can you please let us know that was the vision of then PM Bhutto when he announced and implemented this timber policy of 1973-74 when he abolished the contractors/ timber mafia system. Does PTI have the vision of ZAB? Of course I do not support the action of ex PM Raja but I salute the vision of ex PM ZAB
Rafiq Ahmed Apr 06, 2013 09:42am
Wake up! Ab koi Bhutto naheen raha.
Tariq Apr 06, 2013 09:42am
Our politicians "vision" is no further than their deep pockets. They're only interested in amassing their personal fortunes when in government and care not one bit about the country nor the people they represent.
nasir siddique Apr 06, 2013 10:05am
it would be really funny to see PPP winning another term in office. i don't live in Pakistan so it would be real fun. its going to happen, I kid you not.
Reader Apr 06, 2013 10:09am
He has created a mess. Agreed. What is the solution? Shouldn't the courts strike down the notification which favours the timber mafia?
Nadeem Shaikh hyd Apr 06, 2013 10:14am
It is so sad . It makes me cry God please save are Pakistan.
TheFartman (@abduinmarkets) Apr 06, 2013 10:15am
Yupe my dad said the same thing. No provincial government supports PTI other then punjab. PPP will get all the votes from the primitive massive rural population.
S. A. M. Apr 07, 2013 02:10pm
Very Good that it became known just before the elections. Hey people time is ripe for you to decide who should rule you. I hope the elections bring in the honest and able people to govern the country it should not just be change of faces (so far the country has experienced worsening political climate in the land of the pure) People like Raja Ji should be taken to task should be rigorously questioned as to the logic behind letting the country lose so much of oxygen. Why he chose to leave behind only carbon dioxide and his very obvious footprints on it.
Karachi Wala Apr 06, 2013 10:48am
Being the PM of Pakistan Raja saheb should have ordered to put all this mafia behind bar.
No hope. Apr 06, 2013 10:52am
Excuse me there partner,the visionaries were the ones who founded the country,not the ones who made a mess of things at the end and lost part of Pakistan(Bangladesh) Get your facts straight.
Shahpur Apr 07, 2013 02:06pm
I hope some day there is real accounting. But who will do the accounting. Same families come and go. I always read about the same family names who controlled every thing, 60 years ago.
Karam Ali Apr 06, 2013 11:02am
POPULATION, POPULATION and POPULATION... so many PEOPLE Desire to become wealthy and healthy that they just don't care how they generate money. Natural Resources are the first thing which any one can have if you can.
No hope. Apr 06, 2013 11:03am
We do not need a new Pakistan,what we need is to re-do our priorities,change our thinking and get back to the basics sir.Everybody wants a new Pakistan but no wants wants to change,the reason for where Pakistan is today is US,WE the people of Pakistan.Lets stop blaming others and accept the blame,it all starts when we vote,hold the government accountable for not fulfilling their promises by not electing them again,sir.If your thinking is such,what do you expect from the YOUNGER FOLKS ?
kool Apr 06, 2013 11:17am
I hope that was the Last nail hammered by HIM. Who knows there might be some other criminal acts done by them. Let's wait and see.
Saeed Apr 06, 2013 11:19am
It is yellow journalism or blackmailing . Why don't they bring these evidence or become witness against these politician . I m sick and tired when every one blaming politician for corruption and when they are in jail, no one come forward. Don't tell me they afraid of life, if that so they don't accuse them first place.
Mohammad Farooq Apr 06, 2013 11:43am
An environmental disaster in the offing if it is not reversed.
MSAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:00pm
That is why I always say that Pakistan is not ready for pure vanilla democracy, western style. Voter has to be qualified to vote. We all know that people who do not know what they are voting for should not be allowed to vote.
MSAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:11pm
The problem is even deeper - they don't know what government is for. They run for election just for power and power to corrupt.
MAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:13pm
Why can't the new PM reverse the order?
MAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:19pm
ZAB may have done the right thing in this case, but I do not like ZAB. He was the root cause of derailing the democratic system in Pakistan.
MAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:22pm
If Bhutto is "zinda", what should we call you - "unborn"
MAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:25pm
Your philosophy is nice, but what that has to do with case in hand?
MAlvi Apr 06, 2013 12:32pm
Sraz45, you just said it. I agree with you 1000%. My fear is that PPP, PML, and others have their vote bank consisting of population in the garbage dump. Everyone must not be allowed to vote in Pakistan.
sal Apr 06, 2013 12:40pm
And I wonder who owns the mills? hmmmm. You know Pakistan is becoming a bit like the USA. Except therre its called lobbying, in Pakistan its called corruption.
MOHAMMAD Apr 06, 2013 12:42pm
MMS (USA) Apr 06, 2013 12:53pm
What a sorry excuse for a country.
Tariq Apr 06, 2013 01:02pm
Now that we're inbetween "governments", the lid is coming off slowly of all the (mis)deeds of the incumbent office bearers the PPP. What was the opposition party PML-N doing - sleeping? The opposition's job is to keep the party in power, PPP on the straight and narrow! We are in the hands of inept, incompetent, corrupt leaders that could not be trusted to be a shepherd!
Izzy Apr 06, 2013 01:07pm
Thank God most corrupt government in the history of mankind is gone.
farid Apr 06, 2013 01:30pm
Don't cry man, vote for the real leader Imran.
farid Apr 06, 2013 01:32pm
The solution is to get rid off these crooks for once and for all, vote Imran.
farid Apr 06, 2013 01:33pm
Pakistan and its voters are unique.
farid Apr 06, 2013 01:35pm
It is because of people like you that these crook will continue to rule Pakistan, land of the pure.
farid Apr 06, 2013 01:44pm
He is dead long time ago. Wake up and see whether you have your food available rather than blindly following a feudal lord and family dynasty.
Masood Hussain Apr 06, 2013 02:54pm
A classical example of over reaction of media. I don't think they have read the notification very carefully.
Keti Zilgish Apr 06, 2013 03:05pm
"Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." ----I guess it was Lord Acton who said that. ZAB was no angel, nor is IK or any Maulana or Imam. "Now you get what you want, do you want more?" ----Bob Marley. In Pakistan the Tableeghi Jamaat is the only experiment without leadership and it seems that they have learnt a lesson by studying in the Western World, Freemasonry and Anarchism. Such lessons are normally not taught via University degrees which are financed entirely by capitalists
angry Apr 06, 2013 03:14pm
another nail in the coffin.
asim Apr 06, 2013 03:21pm
There is no more Bhutto .It is only his ghost which is haunting the nation for so many years.
Fahad J. Apr 06, 2013 05:51pm
What better were people expecting? As if his past record was not known... I mean come on readers.. However, it does make you upset, why are these people still around!?? Beats me he still doesn't have a single white hair, even I have some though I am just 32!
Muhammad Farooq Apr 06, 2013 05:51pm
can you imagine this govt has ruled for last five years and the gift worth Rs. 8.0 billion is the parting gift in the last days of tenure of his office. This is just the tip of the iceberg. An independent audit of all transactions involving this kind of money should be immediately undertaken to see how things went in the last five years. The poor ppl of Pakistan are getting poorer because only certain classes in the country are favored and enriched at the cost of hard working masses.
we are all foresters Apr 07, 2013 05:41pm
Yes it is all nonsense just an effort of PTI to malign the ex PM. If you want proof see the Report "Forest Atlas of Pakistan" funded by the Planning Commission and published by the Forest Institute Peshawar the report clearly proves with maps that there is no deforestation in Pakistan. The report further says that forest have in fact increased by three percent in just the last 3-4 years. So why this media hype? If you want to confirm get a copy of the report from the Planning Commission or the Ministry of Environmental affairs
A.Shah Apr 07, 2013 07:49am
You mean that friendly opposition, now it is going to be their turn and you will how they are going to steal money from this poor nation.
beinspired5 Apr 06, 2013 06:47pm
Shame on Raja Ashraf
akhter husain Apr 06, 2013 07:30pm
Fully agree.The already cut timber should not have been left to rot,simple as that.
omar Apr 06, 2013 07:32pm
How is this even related to the current situation of the ex-PM lining his pockets? It's all cool if you want to be a PPP jiyala, just don't randomly bring it up in conversations to show your ignorance.
Rizwan Apr 06, 2013 07:36pm
There is little truth to this. Why do continue to print tripe.
Tausif Apr 06, 2013 07:56pm
Great Job! Why should there be ban of the movement of timber? down country? For environmental reasons? You can save the environment through many other means also including massive plantation and cleaner cities, less cars! There is a huge construction industry down there in the country and people need houses to cope with such a huge population! In this country, there is no ban on the movement of weapons from the tribal areas to down country (involving a lot of officials in uniform), heroin etc. then why should there be a ban on timber? We have 13 agencies in FATA and PATA and they are ALL run by different codes of kill a person down country, move to any of these 13 areas and you are safe there! If I am a prime minister, I remove all the bans on the movement of legal things and ban only those things, which should be banned!!!!! FOR EXAMPLE, the taking over of military of almost all the best places and points in major cities! I get rid of Cantonments! Turn the GHQ into the most modern university of the country! Turn Faisal Mosque to a house for the orphans!
Naila Apr 06, 2013 08:01pm
Disgustingly unpatriotic! I hope people throw these looters out this election.
Naila Apr 06, 2013 08:08pm
'Primitive massive rural population voting for PPP' .. that prospect really worries me. I would rather 'suffer' under PML (N), lesser of the two evils.
sher khan Apr 06, 2013 08:41pm
yeh lets make ZAB next PM, he is alive anyways.
A Little Bird Apr 07, 2013 05:58pm
The conspiracy theory is now a bit clearer: Present Secretary Kashmir Affairs and GB who was the boss of the Pak Forest Institute Peshawar when he was in Environment Ministry gave 70 million to PFI to study the Forest cover, later at his present posting he uses the PFI study to convince the innocent ex PM issue the permits to timber mafia. The Atlas of Pakistan Publication made by tax payer money with approval of the Planning Commission says that in fact the forest cover of the country has increased by 3 percent, so lets start cutting trees. Mr Wato the last Minister Kashmir and GB Affairs in fact removed Javed Malik and brought the present Secretary. Mr Malik and Babr Yaqub would not listen to Mr Wattoo or the PM and had created hurdles
sana Apr 06, 2013 11:10pm
nice work..... fruits of democracy can be seen all over Pakistan
Jabran Apr 07, 2013 12:50am
It's what happens when you choose looters to lead the country. Pakistanis, if you expect change, then P-L-E-A-S-E vote NEW people into government. If you vote the same old trolls into power, you will only invite the same ineptitude, dishonesty, nepotism and lack of regard for Pakistan and Pakistanis.
A Big Bird Apr 07, 2013 07:14pm
What is PTI stand on this issue of Legal Illegal timber policy we the youth want clear answer. The Indians resolved this through a constitutional amendment in 1976 can PTI dare take bold decisions or will be dictated by honorable Senator Raza Rabbani who closed Environment from the Central Government.
All Foresters Apr 07, 2013 04:09am
Just let us know what Imran has to say on this problem. His silence will mean business as usual. Do you know the profit margin the timber mafia has in this case; timber in Lahore sells at 4000 per cubic foot while despite the fines imposed by the ex PM the margin remains 1:5 on the existing wood lying on KKH. Not to talk about more that will be added from other forests, from forests of KPK and Murree, Mirpur and AJK when this huge timber will pass through the roads. PTI will have election campaign all along the trade route
All Foresters Apr 07, 2013 04:11am
The solution is to see what others did to solve the same problem. India is one example
All Foresters Apr 07, 2013 04:18am
Yes and the decision to declare a timber as legal or illegal is left at the mercy of the mafia. In fact the legality of this order of the outgoing PM needs to be reviewed. How could he declare timber cut during the time of the ban as legal ? and can an executive order undo a legal order of the Government ? You know where all this money approx 50-100 billion Rupees go. None to the owners of these forests for sure
All Foresters Apr 07, 2013 04:26am
Hats off to the media that has taken up this issue, otherwise the neither the courts nor the Ministries concerned would have. Did you realize where all this money will go ? in the election campaign. It is the duty of the media to sensitize the voters of their environmental rights, Political parties including PTI must announce in clear terms how they are to address this complex issue of forest corruption
khanm Apr 07, 2013 04:52am
failure to bring the honest people in power
Harith Apr 07, 2013 05:15am
I hope all such ministers who misused their positions and took wilful wrong decisions are caught by the next government/supreme court and asked to pay up or go to prison. We must make examples of such people.
Ghalib Khan Apr 07, 2013 06:05am
Give the Guy a break Election Expenses are quite heavy and keeping in mind the performance (what performance you might ask I am speechless there so forgive me) they would require special funds, but they do still have their big boss on the throne so PPPP shouldn't quite panic, but the rest of Pakistanis really should.
Nazir K Ali Apr 07, 2013 06:53am
Dictionaries of all languages have run out of words defining the Pakistani politicians and their corrupt practices. Salams
kirther Apr 07, 2013 07:47pm
People should support the Election Commission in getting rid of corrupt politicians, people of Pakistan must also demand that the process of accountability must be initiated for government official top to bottom and if found guilty instead of transfer their services should be terminated.
Asghar Mahmood Apr 07, 2013 11:12am
In Pakistan, a Prime Minister can do any thing and every thing to please family members, friends, mentors and mafias, ignoring rule of law, good governance and environmental considerations.