Lahore welcomes yet another season of smog with all eyes towards Indian farmers burning crops. The narrative coming from the government is that India is to be blamed for this atrocity, however, Indian farmers burning crops is a known fact for a long time now - enough for the government to take action and come up with remedies for the citizens of Lahore and adjoining areas. While the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government penalised crop burning in their tenure, in order to avoid punishment the farmers started burning crops at night here at this side of the border. This is public information at the disposal of the new government that needs to be vigilant about smog in the country.

Air pollution in Pakistan causes 135,000 deaths in the year. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Lahore and adjoining areas at this time has reached 484 according to Amnesty International, which is way past the hazardous limit of 300. Such air conditions are equivalent to residents smoking 14 cigarettes a day and result in the development of respiratory diseases. The government has ordered no directives to the resident to take any precautionary measures nor is there affirmation of how serious the situation is. The Environment Protection Secretary Salman Ejaz on Wednesday contradicted reports suggesting the development of hazardous level smog in Lahore, claiming that authentic data shows much lower levels that are not dangerous at all as yet. Chief Meteorologist Sahibzad Khan also claimed that the situation in Lahore is merely smoke and haze which is a sign of incoming rain. This shows a serious lack of coordination among departments that should be on top of the situation.

The Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul needs to be alerted and prompted to take swift action in this regard. Smog is not a new issue and the government should have had a steady plan to tackle the situation by now. Shifting blame on the Indian side does not result in the eradication of the problem at hand. The government needs to seek mechanisms that can help ease the situation, and also find ways to admonish the Indian side if crop burning at their end is truly the cause of such weather conditions at this side of the border.

It is also equally important to educate residents about the situation and how they can protect themselves. People living in areas affected by smog should be encouraged to wear smog masks and also advised to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary.