KARACHI  -   Every year around 54,000 Pakistani children die of diarrhea, State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir expressed on Friday.

She resolved that Pakistan, as a great nation, had to battle with the dilemma of climate change and environmental degradation. The minister asked the citizens to follow the vision of the prime minister, and plant trees in the metropolis to make it green, clean and beautiful.  

She was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the fifth international conference on “Environmental Horizon, Sounding the Alarm! Environment, Climate Change and Health” held at Professor Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi on Friday. The event was jointly organised by the Karachi University’s Department of Chemistry, ICCBS, and the University’s Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization.

The ceremony was well attended and addressed by Special Secretary Health Dabeer A Khan, World Wide Fund for Nature Director General Pakistan Hammad Naqi Khan, ICCBS Director Prof Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, Chairman Chemistry Department Prof Dr Majid Mumtaz, and two American delegates including Dr James Schauer. The chemistry event will conclude on Sunday.

The minister said that her ministry was following the vision of PM Imran Khan to make the county green and beautiful. She regretted that untreated wastewater was being released to ocean. This issue needs immediate attention from the authorities concerned, she observed.    

The minister stated that the students, listening to her in the auditorium, was her target audience, and said that Pakistan had the largest part of youth in her population. She maintained that the nation needed to make her youth aware about the importance of forests and clean and green environment for human survival.

She appreciated the University for organising such a useful international conference.

Meanwhile, Prof Dr Iqbal Choudhary pointed out that Pakistan was the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change. He said that climate change and environmental degradation should be treated as a communal problem.

Quoting statistics issued by the international organisations, he said that the country was suffering from many ecological challenges posing severe threats to human health and life.

In Pakistan environmental issues include deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, climate change, pesticide misuse, soil erosion, natural disasters and desertification, Prof Choudhary said.

Dabeer A Khan said that the provincial government was fighting against various health issues and diseases which were directly associated with the environmental degradation and climate change. 

Speaking on the issue, Hammad Naqi Khan said that it was the right time to obtain concrete measures to address environmental challenges in the country. He said that deforestation, climate change and the reduction of freshwater resources were the major environmental issues in Pakistan which are adversely impacting the environment, health and economy of the country.