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A land left to drown by the ‘timber mafia’

Herald Scotland - The warnings regularly given by all manner of experts had been ignored for decades.

If Pakistan's authorities continued to allow the country's timber mafia and a benighted and oppressed peasantry to strip the country's forests at a faster rate than anywhere else in Asia, as is happening, floods of Biblical proportions would be inevitable. They would not be acts of God. They would be man-made catastrophes.

And so it came to pass – as August began – that heavier than usual, but not unprecedented, monsoon rains fell on the largely forest-denuded northwest Himalayan, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains and foothills, swelling the mighty 2000 mile-long Indus river, originating in Tibet, and others such as the Jhelum, Swat, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their many tributaries.

What then happened, reports by Pakistani journalists and environmental campaigners have steadily established, was truly terrifying.

Trees felled by so-called illegal loggers – an infamous “timber mafia” that has representatives in the Pakistan Parliament in Islamabad and connections right to the top of government and the military – are stacked in the innumerable nullahs [steep narrow valleys], gorges and ravines leading into the main rivers. Read more.

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