Daily Briefs

Photo : Dawn

21 May 2020, Thursday, Vol 1, No.21

Locusts threaten Pakistan's food security

Evening Brief: Locust invasion threatens Pakistan's food security; Imran Khan complains of India's false flag march, again

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
By Lakshmi V Menon & Abigail Miriam Fernandez

Locusts threaten Pakistan's food security
The locust attacks in Pakistan are posing as a potential threat to food security. This situation is the worst in 30 years. The locust invasions have struck large areas of Pakistan, especially its south-western districts, ravaging cotton and food crops. 

Many in Pakistan fear a famine-like situation with food security threatened and economy if left uncontrolled. Farmers from Sindh and parts of KP have already reported significant crop losses caused by the outbreak. The situation this year is said to be aggravated as for the first time in many decades, there is a second threat of invasion from East Africa.

In its recent report, 'Desert locust situation in Pakistan', the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations had cautioned Pakistan of a potentially serious food security crisis due to locust attacks. The report fears that Pakistan and Iran in the eastern region were more prone to locust breeding, projecting that during the next few weeks, spring breeding will continue in coastal and interior areas of Balochistan and an increasing number of locust would mature and form small groups which would move over the region. Further, towards the end of May, they will move from the spring breeding areas in Balochistan and adjacent areas of southeast Iran to the summer breeding areas along both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border. This movement will continue throughout June. Thus, the locust attacks could cause major damages to livelihoods, food security, and nutrition of the susceptible communities and populations of Pakistan. (Minà Dowlatchahi, Mubarik Ahmed, Keith Cressman, "Desert Locust Situation in Pakistan," FAO)

The invasion caught the authorities unprepared and without proper equipment to fight the threat. Farmers were mostly left on their own to tackle the infestation. Although the government declared a national emergency in February, insufficient measures left the locust more breeding space. 

However, the Government of Pakistan has taken numerous anticipatory actions in collaboration with FAO and with the support of international partners to address this threat and be prepared for a timely and effective response. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and provincial agriculture departments, including the military when necessary, have pooled resources to ensure surveillance coverage in Desert Locust prone areas. The NDMA announced that nine aircraft will spray locust-infested areas with insecticides, measures such as these would have to be done with caution as the right insecticide targeting only the locust would have to be used. The government would have to cautiously and swiftly initiate its pest control operations to eliminate the developing swarms before it is too late.

Also, read:

Nasir Iqbal "Locust attack may ultimately threaten food security," Dawn, 21 May 2020
"Locust Threat," Dawn, 01 February 2020
"New locust invasion," Dawn, 07 May 2020
"PML-N warns of famine due to locust attack in South Punjab," Dawn, 19 May 2020

Imran Khan addresses the COVID Action Platform
Prime Minister Imran Khan called for debt relief at the virtual "Covid Action Platform" hosted by the World Economic Forum. Khan said many developing nations did not have the fiscal space required to divert resources to healthcare and stimulus-packages to tackle the pandemic's economic fallouts. Developing nations face a dual challenge of tackling poverty and combating the virus, he added.

Imran praised his government's cash disbursement programme. However, he explained that Pakistan did not have the means to dispense money endlessly and that 25 million families would have starved had the lockdown not been relaxed. Imran blamed previous governments' neglect of the health sector for worsening the Covid-19 challenge faced by the ruling PTI. ("PM makes out strong case for debt relief at WEF," Dawn, 21 May 2020)

Image Source: The News

In Brief
By A Padmashree & P Harini Sha

Casualties cross 1000; Pakistan becomes the sixth most affected in Asia
With 2,193 fresh, positive cases and 32 new deaths within 24 hours, Pakistan's death toll raised to 1,017 becoming the sixth-largest affected country in Asia. Though more than 14,000 patients recovered from coronavirus, there are 32,919 active cases in Pakistan with a mortality rate of 6 per cent. The Sindh province is highly affected by 18,964 confirmed cases and 316 deaths concerning the whole of Pakistan. The easing down of lockdown and rush in public places poses an imminent threat to the country in its battle against COVID-19 with a surging number of confirmed cases day to day basis.  

Two lawmakers die of coronavirus in Pakistan
COVID-19 claims the life of two senior lawmakers from Punjab Assembly and the Balochistan Assembly on Wednesday (20 May). Ms Raza, a member of PTI from Punjab Assembly had contacted the virus during her door-to-door ration distribution campaign in the highly affected Gujranwala. Mr Agha, a member of JUI-F from Balochistan Assembly was shifted late to the hospital in a critical state after being kept in house quarantine for a week. The two have become the first politicians to die of coronavirus in Pakistan. ("Covid-19 claims lives of two lawmakers", Dawn, 21 May 2020) 

Dawn asks whether the Twitter blackout deliberate and what if?
On 17 May 2020, there was a complete blackout of Twitter's video conferencing Zoom app, while important State policies were under discussion. After the assessment, the Pakistan Digital Rights Foundation located the interruption from a particular place in Pakistan. This has led to questioning the intentions of the disruption. According to the editorial, the outage is said to be caused deliberately in order to test the limits of the State's functioning in a digital platform. However, when it comes to the protection of citizens in these digital forums, especially at present, the PTA government stands mute. ("Twitter Outrage," Dawn, 21 May 2020)

Within a week, Imran Khan talks about a false flag meeting by India for the second time
Prime Minister Imran Khan tweets about imminent false flag operation by India for diverting the "genocide" in Kashmir. Imran Khan has repeated the statement for the second time within a week. He also charges the Indian Prime Minister for violating the line of control and committing war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir. ("False flag operation by India imminent: Imran," Dawn, 21 May 2020) 

"Kashmiris are sick and tired of Indian oppression," says Dawn editorial
The Kashmiris have become distressed due to tensions between its people and Indian forces. It claims that even upon expressing its unwillingness of India involving in their region, the status quo, demographic changes, and tactics haven't stopped. In the case of India, the recent events in Delhi have added fury amongst the Kashmiri youth in the form of protests. However, it has ignored giving attention to the Kashmiris and persists to follows the same methods to keep them under control even in the current crisis. ("Unrest in IHK," Dawn, 21 May 2020)

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia criticize the Chinese lending to Pakistan as predatory, unsustainable and unfair
The US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia insisted that China must wave-off the debt lent to Pakistan in this crisis situation. She claims that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gives room for speculation on transparency and rates imposed by China. She said that the unfair rates fixed will have a huge difference in the bilateral trade between Pakistan and China. ("US urges China to waive off Pakistan's debt amid Covid-19 crisis," The Express Tribune, 21 May 2020)

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