The sudden removal of Mushahidullah Khan as climate change minister following his controversial remarks against a former spymaster may take a toll on several initiatives taken by him and the ministry on environmental issues.
Khan, whose resignation was accepted by the prime minister on Monday had been on the forefront in streamlining strategies at a time when the country was facing numerous environmental issues including floods, deforestation and environmental degradation.
A conference on environmental issues is also going to be held in Paris by the end of this year to thrash out a future strategy to cope with environmental challenges and the climate change ministry, under the leadership of the former minister, was preparing a blueprint of the country’s environmental issues to represent them at the international forum.
“Though the Climate Change Ministry could not fully translate policies into practical actions, numerous environmental issues have thrust into the limelight after Mushahidullah Khan was made the minister,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity.
“Before uplifting into a full-fledged ministry and appointment of Khan as minister, the climate change division was run on an ad-hoc basis for the last many years with most senior positions either lying vacant or additionally held by officers with no expertise and knowhow of environmental issues,” the official said adding that environmental issues were on the least priority of the division, now the ministry.
Earlier, the ministry was functioning without a secretary for many months and officials were taking pointless international tours and things were almost in complete disarray unless the minister flogged the dead horse to take cognisance of environmental issues across the country by taking provincial environmental agencies in the loop.
The elevation of the division into the ministry had kindle the hope among the country’s environmentalists that effective policies would be put in place to cope with the climate change issues, but now they fear that the sudden change of hands may adversely affect the initiatives taken by the ministry so far.
In his eighth-month tenure, Khan set in motion many pending issues besides speeding up work on the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy, formulation of a first ever forest policy, initiating work on the botanical-cum-zoological garden in the federal, formulation of bio safety laws to regulate genetically modified organisms in addition to binding civic agencies and hospitals to adhere to environmental laws while disposing of trash and hazardous waste. “All these measures are in progress due to the continuous interest and persuasion of Khan, which may now slow down in his absence,” said another official.
Khan also represented Pakistan at different world forums and was elected as Chairman of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection programme in March due to his proactive role and interest on environmental issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2015.