ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday urged the nation to continue observing the SOPs, as Pakistan was among the fortunate countries where COVID-19 cases had gone down.

In tweets, the prime minister said, “I urge the nation to continue observing the SOPs essential to sustain our positive trend. Eidul Azha must be celebrated with simplicity so as not to repeat what happened last Eid when the SOPs were ignored & our hospitals were choked. I am ordering strict implementation of govt SOPs”.

“Pak is amongst the fortunate countries where COVID-19 cases in hospitals, esp in intensive care & death rate, have gone down, unlike in our unfortunate neighbor India. This positive trend has been the result of our smart lockdown policy & the nation observing govt SOPs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the PM on National Security Dr. Moeed Yousuf called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed the regional situation. Briefing the premier on progress in the repatriation of Pakistanis stranded abroad, Yousuf said so far more than 225,000 Pakistanis from 70 countries around the world had been repatriated.

Special Assistant to the PM on National Security Dr. Moeed Yousuf called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. PID

Expressing satisfaction over the arrangements and progress made in repatriating Pakistanis, the prime minister said ‘Pakistanis living in any corner of the world are our responsibility and we will make every effort to fulfill this responsibility’.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan said a green Pakistan guaranteed a prosperous future for the coming generations and urged upon the nation to join hands in achieving the target of 10 billion trees to fight climate change and environmental pollution.

Speaking here at the launch of the monsoon plantation drive 2020 near Kahuta, the prime minister said to address the growing pollution levels and national environmental degradation it was vital that concerted efforts were made to plant trees extensively across the country. Khan regretted that the forest cover in Pakistan had rapidly depleted over the years and pointed that the number of trees in the country at the time of its partition from the Indian sub-continent had decreased to an alarming level.

He mentioned the alarming levels of pollution in Lahore and said lack of trees was a serious threat to human health and said it would be addressed by his government on priority. In this regard, he mentioned the recent declaration of nine new national parks in the country and said the country had 30 such reserved areas since it gained independence in 1947.

He said the number of such exclusive zones, where the plants and trees could grow and wild life flourish, would be further enhanced in the days to come. Imran said his government had launched an ambitious project to plant 10 billion trees across the country.

He said in the past two years, his government had planted 30 million trees, while new nurseries were working at top speed to increase this number to one billion by June next year. “I am sure our government will be able to meet this ambitious target of one billion trees in its five-year term,” Khan said.

He said Pakistan was blessed to have 12 diverse ecological zones and it was a national obligation to preserve and protect the natural systems and its flora and fauna. “A Green Pakistan is my dream,” Imran Khan said as a large number of school children and their teachers, who were sitting all along the hillside cheered.

“It is my appeal to you to plant a tree, but it is all the more important to protect this seedling so that it grows into a healthy tree, and it has to be saved from not only wild animals, but also the mafia that deals in timber,” Imran Khan said. He said 300 wardens had been appointed for the protection of trees in this area alone and said this number would be raised to 3,000 in the days to come.

He said every school would allocate two hours every week to create awareness amongst the children about the importance of clean and green Pakistan. He said it was part of the faith of every Muslim to ensure cleanliness, but regretted that the situation was not so encouraging as compared to the West.