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Residents of Pakistan's Lahore choke in acrid smog

By Hamza Ameer
Lahore, Nov 18 (IANS) The capital of Pakistan's largest province in terms of population, Lahore, is witnessing the worst air quality and has become one of the worlds most polluted cities, choking the residents.

Lahore has been declared the most polluted city in the world by IQAir, a Swiss technology company that operates the AirVisual monitoring platform.

With a recorded air quality ranking of 348, which is above the hazardous level of 300, residents are choking in acrid smog, calling on the authorities to find a solution.

"Children are experiencing breathing diseases. Find a solution", said Muhammad Saeed, a labourer who works as a daily wager.

Lahore has seen its name appearing among the worst cities in the world for air pollution. The city chokes under the effect of low-grade diesel fumes, smoke from seasonal crops' stubble burning and cold winter temperatures.

Adjoining India through the Punjab province, air pollution plagues both the countries, keeping them on top of the pollution table. Residents of this city of at least 11 million people, many of whom are under the poverty line, say the ongoing breathing problems due to air pollution are causing major issues for poor families as they cannot afford to afford to pay doctor's fees.

"We are poor people, can't even afford a doctor's charges. We only plead with them to control the pollution. I am not a literate person, but I have heard that Lahore has the worst air quality and then comes India's Delhi. If it continues like this, we will die", said Saeed.

"Before, I used to go for a walk with my children. But now, I don't bring them with me," he added.

While the Pakistan government under Prime Minister Imran Khan sees itself as one of the frontline campaigners for climate change, residents have been repeatedly filing lawsuits against government officials, demanding immediate action to clear the air.

Residents say despite the legal recourse, authorities have been very slow in acting or have opted to put the blame on India or claim that the figures quoted are exaggerated.