In a press conference yesterday, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry delineated on some highly ambitious decisions taken by the cabinet with regard to energy and industry, decisions which if followed through efficiently could cause monumental change in Pakistan’s industrial and economic growth. It is clear that a ministry that was once virtually unheard of is now taking initiatives which stand to help bring Pakistan to the forefront of global industry; the Minister must be commended for this.

One of the more controversial decisions is the approval of the first license for the industrial and medical use of hemp. By investing in the cultivation of the industrial hemp plant, Pakistan will be part of the international cannabidiol (CBD) market worth billions of dollars.

Here is the slightly tricky part. Since CBD is the chemical component of the cannabis plant, it has the potential to induce some backlash. It is thus important to remember, and for the government to emphasise on its awareness campaigns, inform people that their misgivings are unfounded. Instead, the benefits of CBD are vastly medical in nature—several studies being done in medicine have predicted that CBD could revolutionise healthcare and natural remedies. There is good evidence that CBD treatments can reduce anxiety and depression; there are several indications that its use might even alleviate symptoms related to cancer.

The second project announced was a policy to introduce electric buses and two- and three-wheelers in the country. The minister announced that the government had signed the agreement for an electric bus project with two companies that he said will bring a “revolution” in the country’s public transport infrastructure. This is, again, a brilliant initiative which, if conducted efficiently, could save citizens from crippling expenditure on petrol, and allow a better quality of life due to the reduction in pollution. Yet again, the government needs to go into this project knowing the risks. For any ambitious green deal such as this, the benefits take time to reap- there will likely be a difficult transition period, and if the government is unable to withstand the initial backlash the first few phases will receive, the entire project can crumble.

These exciting developments must be praised and encouraged—yet these require patience, consistency and excellent execution from the government. It is hoped that the government puts its best in these initiatives and does not get side-tracked by political distractions—otherwise, the whole endeavour can be counter-productive.