WILD forest fires have been active in the southern coast of Turkey since 28 July 2021resulting in loss of some precious lives and depriving the local population of their belongings and livelihood.
According to official estimates, about 174 wildfires killed eight people and burnt at least 118,789 hectares of land, threatening the tourism industry as thousands of people including tourists had to be evacuated from residential areas and hotels. Many fields have been affected and over two thousand animals have died.
Wild fires are not a new phenomenon as these cause significant losses across the world every year and this year alone 37,803 fires burned more than three million acres across the United States.
However, Turkey did not witness such natural calamity at this much scale and intensity before and therefore, is experiencing understandable difficulties in tackling the situation because of severe drought, extreme temperature and strong winds.
Irrespective of the conspiracy theories as many in Turkey also believe the fires are the result of ‘sabotage’, it is a fact that often vested interests and mafias are to be blamed for such tactics for a variety of reasons including attempts to cover up illegal cutting of forest trees as is also the case in Pakistan.
The Turkish Government has, no doubt, deployed all available resources to extinguish fires and provide relief to the affected people as sixteen airplanes, nine unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV], 51 helicopters, one unmanned aerial helicopter, 805 water tankers and 5,200 personnel are battling with the blazes, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited the affected areas, vowed that the government would do everything to help people affected by the disaster to rebuild their lives and we are sure he has the vision and the leadership qualities to take care of the challenge but it is responsibility of friends like Pakistan to offer the kind of assistance that Ankara needs to mitigate sufferings of the affected people
. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already expressed complete solidarity with the people of the brotherly country but practical steps are needed as aircraft from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Ukraine were already involved in the massive fire-fighting operation and Pakistan could also have offered whatever expertise it has in the field.