Timber Mafia in KP & AJK– Critical Analysis

  1. In Azad Jammu & Kashmir, after the massive earthquake of 2005, expensive timber of worth more than Rs. 5 billion was illegally disposed off or sold by the officials of Forests Department in connivance with other government departments. In official record the officials have reflected that the timber was of very low quality and had been washed away by the floods[17].
  2. After the Earthquake of 2005, the government functionaries having vested interests and in search of opportunities to play havoc with the forests without wasting any opportunity made the then Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir to announce that they will shift the capital to new site after clearing the forest area. Credit goes to the Environmental activists as because of their criticism the idea could not materialized.
  • Pakistan Forest Digest is a quarterly printed digest covering major happening in forestry. Last five year volumes (2007-12) were analyzed and it has been observed that 95% of the material published in those digests pertains to complaints against the Forest Department officials of both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir for their illicit involvement in the timber business and collusion with the Mafia. In only 5% incidents the officials were appreciated for taking corrective measures to save the forests from the mafia.
  1. The Network of officials which includes the officials from Forests Department, Police, Revenue Department, Local Government is so strong that no one takes action against other. Rather one department plays role of providing shelter and protection to the other.
  2. The local prosecutors are also involved in the mafia net that the limited cases against the notorious timber mafia dons are not being properly perused in the courts of law and the conviction rate is too low. In that way the offenders easily get away with their illegal catch. This also sends negative signals and boosts the morale of other criminal as there is uncertainty of the laws.
  3. The officials responsible for law making and policy formulation have non serious and non professional behavior as it appears that they are not serious in coming up with some concrete proposals to curb the illegal practice of logging.
  • There are 24 forest check posts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 20 in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. These check posts are guarded by forest rangers and police. With this large number of check posts it is not possible to pass the illegal timber. This very fact shows that these check posts receive instructions from elsewhere as when to be active and when to remain dormant so that the timber mafia may pass their illegal catch without any hindrance.
  • Because of high incidents and pressing demands of the locals, Army conducted some operations against the timber mafia and has successfully nabbed/busted few gangs of timber mafia. This very fact shows that if the institutions are determined they can put some check on this illegal practice. This determination and sense of responsibility is rather missing in forest officials and the police.
  1. In District Chitral of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, due to increased operations of the Timber Mafia the local population of Ayun village went in protests against the forests officials and police. Instead of taking action against the corrupt state functionaries and timber mafia, on behest of the vested groups the protesters were themselves arrested and cases under Section 7 of Anti Terrorist Act were registered against them[18]. This incident itself speaks a lot about the involvement of the state functionaries and their involvement with the timber mafia.
  2. Mansehra Forest Department and Police on information received by the local people have conducted a raid in April, 2012 and recovered 10000 square feet of illegal cutted timber. As per the report published in the newspaper, the persons of timber mafia were not arrested and instead were given safe exit due to a deal with raiding party[19].
  3. One of the news papers has carried a story of operations of Timber Mafia in connivance with public officials in Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

timber mafia in connivance with the officials concerned was busy chopping the forest ruthlessly. There is no check on the mafia. Many precious trees were on the verge of extinction and there is no step insight to save them….there is a danger of torrential flooding in the area due to the denudation….regretted that the officials of the Forest Department never bothered to take action against the timber mafia despite repeated complaint by the locals”. (Reporter 2012).

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