The government declared emergency in Pakistan to eliminate the attacking of locust which are destroying crops on a large scale in Punjab after wiping out the same in Sindh.
The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Prime Minister Imran Khan at the PM Office. The meeting attended by federal ministers and senior officials of the four provinces also approved a national action plan (NAP) that requires a sum of Rs7.3 billion to overcome the crisis.
Detailed briefing on the overall situation was given to the prime minister during the meeting held at the PM Office which was also attended by Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and chairman National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal.
Minister for National Food Security Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar informed the National Assembly about the significance of the situation and the steps taken so far by the federal and provincial governments to deal with the crisis.
Prime Minister Khan ordered formation of a high-level committee to be headed by Khusro Bakhtiar to take decisions at the federal level for elimination of locust swarms. The NDMA chairman was made a focal person in this regard.
The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to make immediate measures on the basis of damage of ripened crops. Protection of farms and farmers is the highest priority of the government. Therefore, the federal government should take all necessary steps to save national crops and provide required resources to the quarters concerned.
Chairman NDMA added that “A sum of Rs7.3bn is required to avoid further destruction”. The minister informed the house that it was for the first time that after attacking Sindh and Punjab, the swarms of locust had entered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He said a special plan was also being devised to kill locusts in KP. Declaration of national emergency was eminent to handle the situation; besides, parliament must have a role in monitoring the situation.
He said the swarms of locust were currently on the Pakistan-India border along Cholistan, adding that locusts had entered Cholistan and Nara from Sindh and Balochistan.
Nawab Yousuf Talpur of the PPP said that in 1993 when locusts had attacked the country, the situation had been handled in four days with limited resources.