Under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997, the term ‘environment’ is defined to mean air, water, land and layers of the atmosphere; living organisms and inorganic matter; the ecosystem and ecological relationships; buildings, structures, roads, facilities and works; all social and economic conditions affecting community life; and the interrelationship between any of these elements (section 2(x)). In Pakistan, environmental law is thus defined in the broadest sense to include the management of biological and other natural resources as well as the control of pollution and hazardous materials. The environmental legal regime in force in the country today comprises a substantial number of laws covering subjects ranging from species to sectors to activities, and enacted over a period of nearly 150 years.

During the last decade, the environmental legal regime has been bolstered by the superior courts which have pressed into service fundamental rights guaranteed to citizens under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973. The word ‘life’ as it is used in the Constitution has been ruled to mean more than mere existence and has, rather, been interpreted to mean quality of life, including the right to a clean and safe environment (PLD 1994 SC 693).

Environmental Law in Pakistan is a six-part series, organised as follows:

  •     Part 1: Federal,
  •     Part 2: Balochistan,
  •     Part 3: North-West Frontier Province,
  •     Part 4: Punjab,
  •     Part 5: Sindh, and
  •     Part 6: Northern Areas.


Each volume reviews and analyses the law governing natural resources, as well as the processes and activities that impact natural resource management. For a fuller understanding of environmental legislation at the sub-national level, the provincial and regional surveys should be read together with the federal review.

The process of compiling, writing and editing this series has taken more than five years. The authors include legal practitioners and academics belonging to all provinces and territories of Pakistan. They reviewed hundreds of federal and provincial legal instruments to identify not only the statutes that govern natural resources directly but also those that indirectly or potentially affect natural resource management.

Environmental Law in Pakistan is intended to serve as a reference resource for law students and teachers, practising lawyers, lawmakers, judges, administrators, corporate officers, and others who require information on the subject. Every effort has been made to keep the text of the analysis jargon-free so that it is accessible to the widest possible audience.