Journalist Arrested for Exposing Felling of Historic Trees

By Zafar Iqbal

NEELUM VALLEY, Jammu and Kashmir,

A journalist has been arrested by police and is being detained after the publication of photos he took of historic trees chopped down by government officials.

 Elderly eyewitnesses say the trees that were cut down were 54 years old. They were planted by the hands of prominent personalities of national fame, including the first Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Abdul Hamid Khan.

The photos show trees that were felled before the July 18 visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to Athmuqam in the Neelum Valley of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

 Khawaja Fiaz Hussain, a correspondent for a leading Urdu daily newspaper and a freelance photojournalist, released a collection of images of the felled trees, both pines and other species.

 The images were widely carried by local newspapers and aroused public anger over the logging by the government workers, whom local people describe as being primarily responsible for the protection of forests and environment.

 In the Neelum Valley, the forests of pine fir and deodar trees provide habitat for endangered species of wildlife.

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(Writer is Founder of Press For Peace (PFP)  and could be accessed via :