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It is well known that officials and politicians are in the habit of blaming one another for their own failings. Buck passing was witnessed at a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change where fires at the Margalla Hills National Park in Islamabad were being discussed. The chairperson of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board alleged that locals and seasonal staff living within the national park caused these fires to get themselves or their relatives recruited as staffers of the park. Special Assistant to the PM on Climate Change Ali Nawaz Awan ruled out the possibility of locals having a hand in fires in the park, saying it did not behoove the wildlife board to shirk their responsibility by shifting blame on to others.

The Senate committee made the recommendation that the wildlife board appoint locals as guards. This is a sensible suggestion and it is the practice the world over as locals are familiar with conditions in their areas. The recruitment of those residing in the neighbourhood serves the purpose better. The committee made several other recommendations such as tying chips to trees in order to protect them from felling and preparing data on forests with the assistance of Suparco as this would help in identifying the extent of deforestation.

The Senate panel also urged the relevant authorities to take effective steps to stop deforestation. An official of the climate change ministry admitted that deforestation in the country was an undeniable reality as in the beginning of the millennium around 17% of forest area had disappeared due to activities of the timber mafia. He said forests could only be well protected with the involvement of locals and the entire society. The minister concerned informed the panel that indigenous trees were being planted because they were known to grow comfortably in local conditions.

As for blaming others for one’s own faults it should be kept in mind that only two kinds of people don’t commit mistakes: those who are not born, and those who have left the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2021.

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