Cholistan is the seventh largest desert of the world and has absolutely different climatic conditions from other deserts with some extra natural qualities which could bring revolutionary changes in the socio-economic conditions of the area and in the medical field, disclosed various educationists.

“Cholistan has the vast qualities and quantity of unique herbs and plants which are of high importance for medicines and treatment,” said Islamia University of Bahawalpur Vice-Chancellor Dr Muhammad Mukhtar in his address as a chief guest at a training workshop at IUB.

The workshop was conducted jointly by the Agriculture University, Faisalabad and the Cholistan Institute of Desert Studies, Islamia University, Bahawalpur under the topic of, “Protection of herbs/shrubs/plants in the deserts of Pakistan and those effects on the socio-economic conditions of the area”. Dr Mukhtar was of the view that a many herbs/shrubs of Cholistan were rare and most suitable for treatment of different diseases. “We could gain much benefit from these by expanding the growth which could bring positive results in the economic uplift of the area too because the climate condition are quite favourable here for these rare herbs/shrubs and plants than other deserts,” he added.

The VC said that the herbs/shrubs and plants had a proven record of productive results and were being used in the local medicines over the centuries but due to unawareness these were still failed to get due response and their kinds were going to be destroyed or disappeared. “So, we have to take serious notice of it to preserve and protect those valuable herbs/shrubs and plants for the benefit of the suffering humanity and welfare of the inhabitants of deserts, he said. He expressed deep concern over the situation and announced to allocate 5 acres of land at Baghdadul Jadid Campus for the plantation of these rare plants for medicines registration.

He further said that the same kind of project in collaboration with the Punjab Agriculture Research Board was in progress and it would produce big financial benefits. He said that a herb of Cholistan origin was available in vast quantity in the Baghdad Campus’s sandy soil.

UAF Faculty of Science Dean Dr Munir A Shaikh presided over the inaugural session of the workshop. Dr Munir in his presidential address said that his university had already been working on the suitable herbs/shrubs of the deserts to find which one was beneficial for medicines and treatment. But, he added, the desert plants of Cholistan were of high importance which could boost-up the national economy and cause earning of foreign exchange through proper research and marketing.

He announced that the research facilities of the UAF would be open for the scholars/researchers of the Islamia University. Cholistan Institute of Desert Studies Director Dr Shazia Anjum in her address highlighted the objectives of her institute and the training workshop. She said that plants and livestock were surviving in Cholistan despite dry conditions and the basic purpose of conducting this workshop was to take initiative for joint ventures to bring change in the socio-economic conditions of the desert for betterment.

She extended gratitude for the cooperation of the Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry departments of the UAF for extending complete support over various related issues.

Dr Aamir Jamil of the UAF highlighted the productive role of the medicinal quality herbs in the Herbal Medicines while Dr Muhammad Ishfaq of the Jamia Zaria in his lecture suggested various proposals for promoting marketing of the desert plants useful for medical purpose to improve the economic conditions.

Later, Dr Mukhtar and Dr Munir signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the behalf of both the universities. The certificate distribution ceremony of the Punjab Skill Development Fund’s course for the students of the Cholistan was also held on the occasion in which one participant was awarded a laptop over remarkable performance and attendance in the course.