PM to embark two-day official visit to Russia from today

Massive forestation crucial to save future generations: PM


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan embarks on a two-day official visit to Russia today, at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin.

According to Foreign Office, the Prime Minister will hold talks with his Russian counterpart, in which the two leaders will review entire array of bilateral relations, including energy cooperation.

They will also have wide-ranging exchange of views on major regional and international issues, including Islamophobia and the situation in Afghanistan.

The visit of the Prime Minister will contribute to further deepening of the multifaceted Pakistan-Russia bilateral relationship and enhancement of mutual cooperation in diverse fields. Meanwhile, to an official commitment, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday urged citizens to plant at least five trees per family and join the government’s efforts in securing a protected environment for future generations. Addressing here at the launch of nationwide Spring Tree Plantation campaign, the prime minister said owing to Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change, massive forestation was crucial to save the country.

The tree plantation event coincided with the World Scouts Day as the government decided to register the young force with the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project to carry out plantation at a wider scale. Around 750,000 scouts of Pakistan Boy Scouts Association will join the drive to achieve the target of planting 540 million trees this season.

The prime minister said the purpose of choosing the Scouts Day for launch of plantation campaign was to encourage the youth to take responsibility in protecting their environment.

He said a highly climate-vulnerable Pakistan could not cope with climate risks, particularly floods, desertification and heatwaves, which had become increasingly frequent due to global warming and reduced tree cover.

He said Pakistan was blessed with immense natural resources, adding that it was the responsibility of every citizen to contribute towards protecting the environment through plantation.

He said planting at least five trees per family would go a long way in making Pakistan clean and green.

He mentioned that Ten Billion Tree project acclaimed international recognition, including by the World Economic Forum and the British prime minister who acknowledged Pakistan as a leader in combating climate change.

“Our future is linked with a green Pakistan and we all need to join hands in achieving this goal,” he said.

Imran Khan said Pakistan’s twelve unique climatic zones provided a favourable ground for tree plantation of all species.

He mentioned that the current season would witness the target accomplishment of planting 540 million trees.

Special Assistant to Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said Pakistan’s successful tree plantation model was inspiring several countries and mentioned that recently a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Saudi Arabia in this regard.

According to the MoU, he said, Pakistan will present a plantation model to the Kingdom based on the suggestions of its own experts.

He said the German Minister for Environment had stated that his government intended to inject 20 million Euros to the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project.

Earlier, the prime minister planted a sapling to mark the launch of Spring Tree Plantation campaign.

Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and a large number of scouts attended the event. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said Pakistan did not want to become part of a particular bloc in the region but instead desired trading relations with all countries including Russia.

In an interview with host Oksana Boyko of Russia Television ahead of his visit to Moscow, he said Pakistan suffered in the past because of the politics of the blocs and did not want to repeat the mistake. The prime minister said the last thing Pakistan wanted was the world to be divided into blocs.

He said cooperation among regional powers including Russia, China, and even the United States could be in the interest of mankind.

Khan said Pakistan wanted to strengthen bilateral relations with Russia and looked forward to his visit to Moscow.

The prime minister said Pakistan was a gas deficient country and pointed out that North-South Gas Pipeline suffered delay because of the U.S. sanctions on the Russian company. He said Pakistan was negotiating for the construction of the pipeline and also eyed buying the cheapest gas from the neighboring Iran after lifting of the U.S. sanctions.

Imran Khan hoped for peaceful resolution of the Ukraine issue, emphasizing that military options could not prove as the right solution to conflicts.

“I am not a believer of military solutions but dialogues,” he said, adding that the same solution in Afghanistan for decades could not save the people of the country from suffering.

He said conflicts could have disastrous consequences on the people of poor countries, who already faced poverty in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

On ties with India, he said his government reached out to the government of India after the assumption of power in order to resolve the outstanding dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, he regretted that India was following a racist and supremacist ideology inspired by Nazism and denied resolving the issue of Kashmir.

Imran Khan termed climate change and illicit flow of money from poor to developed countries as the two major challenges faced by the world.

He mentioned that the plunder of the developing world continued as 1.5 trillion dollars every year was transferred illegally to offshore companies led to severe consequences globally including rising hunger and poverty. The ruling elite of the world, he said, affected the process of accountability. “The only way to remove the imbalance is to make laws to check drug money,” he said.

Asked how would he like to be remembered, he said he wanted to be the one who made a big change in the lives of the common people by bringing them out of poverty, ensuring rule of law, and building a humane socio-welfare society.

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