Pakistan declares national emergency to fight lobsters

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, which faces its worst lobster attack in decades, has declared attacking insects that destroy large-scale crops in the main region of the country for agricultural production.

The decision was taken at a meeting convened by the Prime Minister. Imran Khan on Friday. The meeting, which was attended by federal ministers and senior officials from the four provinces, also approved a National Action Plan (NAP) that requires a sum of Rs 7,300 million to overcome the crisis.

National Food Security Minister Khusro Bakhtiar informed the National Assembly about the seriousness of the situation and the steps taken so far by the federal and provincial governments to face the crisis, the Dawn newspaper reported.

During the meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister, which was also attended by the Adviser to the Prime Minister of Finance, Hafeez Shaikh, among others, a detailed report on the general situation was delivered to the prime minister.

The meeting was informed that, in addition to involving interested officials at the provincial and district levels, different tasks have been assigned to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), provincial disaster management authorities and federal departments and provincial to face the threat.

Prime Minister Khan ordered the formation of a high-level committee headed by Bakhtiar to make decisions at the federal level for the elimination of insects.

The prime minister ordered the authorities concerned to take immediate action based on the damage of mature crops.

The protection of farms and farmers is the highest priority of the government. Therefore, the federal government must take all necessary measures to save national crops and provide the necessary resources to the affected sectors, Khan said in the report.

Bakhtiar informed the house that it was for the first time that after attacking Sindh and Punjab, the locust swarms had entered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A sum of Rs 7.3 bn is required to prevent further destruction, he said.

The national emergency declaration was eminent to handle the situation; In addition, Parliament must have a role in monitoring the situation, he added.

Bakhtiar said the government had managed to save cotton and winter crops to a large extent, adding that climate change was one of the reasons for the delay in leaving. He said the situation was worse than what Pakistan faced in 1993.

Locust swarms are currently on the Pakistan-India border along Cholistan, the minister said, adding that insects had entered Cholistan and Nara from Sindh and Balochistan.

Lobsters used to move to Iran after some time, but maybe this time because of the low temperatures they are still in Pakistan, he said.

Nawab Yousuf Talpur of the People's Party of Pakistan said that in 1993, when lobsters attacked the country, the situation was handled in four days with limited resources, according to the report.