People who have encroached on forest land should be treated like criminals and jailed, Prime Minister Imran Khan said at a tree plantation campaign in Mianwali on Sunday.
People don’t know the importance of plantation drives, he lamented, adding that he wanted the subject to be taught in schools so that everyone knows how important these drives are for the country’s future.
The jungle the British left has been destroyed, he said. He appealed to young people to plant trees. “It’s very important for your future,” said PM Khan, adding that people today aren’t grateful for the blessings God has given Pakistan.
“Pakistan has 12 seasons. How many countries have 12 seasons?” asked the premier. He said all types of fruit can be grown in the country. If we use our water properly, we can supply the world, he said.
Nothing should be expensive in Pakistan, not with the soil and water resources we have, he said. “This is our mistake. We haven’t used God’s blessings properly,” he said.
“I am five years younger than Pakistan, I have seen in my life the destruction of our forests.” How many trees are left in Changa Manga, he asked. People have taken over our land, he added, directing Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to treat people who encroach on forest land like criminals.
Don’t just fine them Rs500,000, send them to jail too, he said. This is a crime against our country, against our youth and against our youth’s future, he said.
PM Khan expounded on the benefits of the plantation drives, saying they’ll provide jobs, fix the environment and help with general prosperity.
He said they are fixing hospitals and schools in Mianwali and have brought in a Punjab IG who will work for the people. “I have told him to go after the big guys and leave the small ones,” said PM Khan.
“Stopping small thieves doesn’t solve the problem. Going after the big ones will automatically scare the small ones,” he said.
Regarding criticism he has faced about spending a lot of money in Mianwali, the premier said the country won’t prosper if all the money is spent on a small place. He counted Mianwali as one of the areas left behind and said money must be spent on these areas to uplift the people.
My mission to make Pakistan a welfare state, as Quaid-e-Azam wanted, he said, adding that the country went on the wrong path.
He said his government hopes to provide free legal aid, better hospitals, health insurance for families in Punjab, interest-free loans student scholarships every year and animals for women.
“We’re trying to uplift people starting from the bottom.”