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Dubai: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the Spring 2019 tree plantation drive as part of the 10 billion tree tsunami today.

Khan had announced the 10 billion tree tsunami last year, soon after he took office, and today he tweeted about the inauguration.

@ImranKhanPTI: We are launching our #Plant4Pakistan programme and reclaiming mafia encroached land, converting it into forests and wildlife parks for our future generations to fight climate change and pollution.

The tree planting drive is part of the ‘Prime Minister’s special initiatives’. The poster shared by Khan provided details of the inauguration today at Nankana Sahib, near the city of Lahore, with the message: “Earlier, forests would be captured (by the land mafia). Now the land will be reclaimed and used to grow forests again.”

The day will be marked across the country with several Pakistanis participating in the drive. On social media, people shared the message encouraging others to participate and #Plant4Pakistan became a trend across the country.

In a television interview to Pakistan’s Hum News, the Minister of Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that it was the Prime Minister’s vision to reclaim the land that had been taken over by the land mafia.

Most appreciated the initiative by the Prime Minister and highlighted the importance of the drive in the long run. Tweep @QiaserAfridi wrote: “No one till now had paid attention towards this issue in history … trees also combat climate change and buffer the impacts of storms and floods. Hope this initiative and awareness will motivate people towards the healthy environment.”

Even in neighbouring India, tweeps could not help but share their thoughts. Tweep @AroraGirish wrote: “The problem of land mafia seems international, thanks for your concern for environment.”

However, some users felt like Khan’s time in power had not shown concrete results on the ground. Tweep @Mahar8baloch wrote: “Time is short but subjects [of concern] are more and more. So make the best use of your time. Imran Khan should get the trust of the nation that believes on you. Your progress in missing in front of the nation.”

About the drive

Khan has been an advocate of environmental conservation for quite a long time. When his party - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – was in power in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, his government planted one billion trees in two years.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Rural Support Programme (NRSP) to use drone technology to plant millions of trees.

In September last year, Khan kicked off a one-day ‘Plant for Pakistan’ drive, with the aim of planting 10 billion trees in five years.