Balochistan: Pine Forest Fire inflicts billions of rupees loss on the local community

According to media reports, an uncontrolled fire spread in the Musakial and Sherani districts of Balochistan pine forests. The fire engulfed an area of approximately 30 square kilometers. The absence of proper resources and equipment halted authorities from responding timely and controlling the fire. As a result, thousands of farmers lost their only source of income – the production of quality pine nuts.

Details of The Fire

The fire was first reported 11 days ago, and it spread quickly in the Koh-e-Suliman range, home to the world’s largest pine forest. It reduced millions of trees to ashes inflicting billions of rupees losses on the local communities dependent on the harvest of pine nuts for generations.

Authorities Disappointed by the Incident

The Chief Minister Balochistan, Mir Quddus Bizenjo, Commander 12-Corps, Lieutenant General Sarfaraz Ali, and Federal Minister for Housing Maulana Abdul Wasey visited Zhob on Saturday to monitor the firefighting activity.

Commissioner Zhob Division, Bashir Ahmed Bazai, Secretary Forest, and Dostain Jamaldini briefed them about the ongoing operation and fire situation. The commissioner noted:

The fire has gutted ancient trees in the Sherani district. On Saturday, helicopters were also used to extinguish the fire. However, it continues to spread fast due to high winds.

Speaking to a media outlet, Muhammad Khan Sherani, an elder of the area, said:

The fire has destroyed our livelihood. People of the area were financially dependent on this forest for hundreds of years. This fire has snatched the bread from our mouths.

An official of the district administration maintained:

The fire engulfed a 30 kilometers area, and it spread fast, which was disturbing. The forest was part of our lives and our main source of income. The destruction of indigenous flora and fauna left us completely ruined.

Muhammad Ghous, another elder, observed:

The government’s late, insufficient, and poorly coordinated response to control the fire resulted in this.

Government Springs into Action

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took notice of the rampant fire in the Koh-e-Suleman range on Saturday. He appointed the Federal Minister for Housing, Maulana Abdul Wasey as his special assistant on the matter.

Maulana Wasey said:

I am in contact with the PM and provincial government simultaneously. The government is well aware of the importance of the forest and its impacts on the local communities. We feel the pain of the local population and realize their difficulties.

The government has sympathized with the farmers and other victims of the forest fire. However, it is yet to be seen what steps the authorities will take to counter damages and ensure the fire incident doesn’t repeat itself.

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