2019 Climate activists and human rights defenders Deforestation Domestic court Human dignity Pakistan Right to freedom of expression Right to life Rights at stake Rights of nature

Sheikh Asim Farooq v. Federation of Pakistan etc.


In Pakistan, civil society members have taken legal action against multiple government departments, including the Planning and Development Department, Punjab Environmental Protection Department, and Housing & Urban Development Department. They assert that these departments have neglected their responsibilities regarding the planting, protection, management, and conservation of trees and forests in Punjab. According to the petitioners, this neglect not only violates legal obligations but also infringes upon their constitutional rights, including the rights to life, liberty, dignity, and access to public places of entertainment. This case highlights the government’s failure to address these critical environmental issues.


The central argument in this case is that the Pakistani government must be compelled to enforce environmental laws and policies, such as the Forest Act, the Trees Act, and various forestry and climate change policies. The petitioners argue that this action is essential to protect their fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the Constitution. They specifically cite Article 9 (right to life and liberty), Article 14 (right to dignity), Article 26 (right to access public places of entertainment), and Article 38(b) (provision of available leisure places). The petitioners assert that the government’s failure to safeguard natural resources and forests, in light of their drastic depletion and the doctrine of public trust, clearly violates their constitutional rights and warrants judicial intervention.


Following the lawsuit, the Lahore High Court granted a writ of mandamus in favour of the petitioners. In its ruling, the court emphasised that international environmental principles, such as sustainable development, the precautionary principle, the public trust doctrine, inter-and intra-generational equity, water justice, food justice, in dubio pro natura, and the polluter pays principle, are integral to Pakistani jurisprudence.

The court stressed the government’s duty to effectively manage and protect forests and urban tree planting, citing specific laws to support its stance. The government was directed to actively adhere to environmental policies, particularly those related to climate change. The court also underscored the importance of environmental rights and the government’s responsibility to combat the impacts of climate change on forests and biodiversity. The court’s order included several instructions, such as enforcing policies, amending legal requirements, and mandating regular reporting on forest growth. It also addressed penalties for non-compliance and encouraged housing societies to support tree planting in green areas, with consequences for the unjustified removal of trees.


The case documents are accessible via Climate Case Chart: Click here.

Status of the case:


Suggested citation:

Sheikh Asim Farooq v. Federation of Pakistan, Writ Petition No. 192069 of 2018, Lahore High Court, Judgment of 30 August 2019.

Last updated:

20 October 2023.

Children and young people Climate-induced displacement Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Pakistan Right to a healthy environment

Ali v. Pakistan

This 2016 petition was brought against Pakistan in the name of a seven-year-old girl from Karachi, and challenges actions and inactions on the part of the federal and provincial government relating to climate change. The case is still pending.

Facts and claims made:
The petition, which is available on Climate Case Chart, was filed directly with the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad, and it alleges violations of constitutional rights, of the public trust doctrine, and of environmental rights. It challenges the environmental harms that are expected to result from the policy of burning coal to obtain electricity. The application challenges a plan to develop coal fields, which would massively increase Pakistani coal production and would displace local residents and degrade the local environment. The plan is linked to investments stemming from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which supports coal field development and new coal-fired power plants in Pakistan.

Suggested case citation:
The Supreme Court of Pakistan, Ali v. Pakistan, petition filed on 1 April 2016

2019 Domestic court Emissions reductions/mitigation Gender / women-led Non-discrimination Pakistan Paris Agreement Private and family life Right to a healthy environment Right to life Uncategorized Vulnerability

Maria Khan et al. v. Federation of Pakistan et al.

Five people identifying themselves as women filed a writ petition, under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan, against the Federation of Pakistan, the Ministry of Climate Change, the Ministry of Energy, the Alternative Energy Development Board, and the Central Power Purchasing Agency. The petitioners alleged a violation of their fundamental rights, recognized by Articles 4 (inalienable rights), 9 (right to life), 14 (right to privacy) and 25 (equality of citizens, notably regardless of sex) of the Constitution of Pakistan, as the respondents infringed their right to a clean and healthy environment and a climate capable of sustaining human life (as recognized in the Leghari v. Pakistan case) by failing to take climate change mitigation measures, and specifically measures to develop renewable energy resources and transition to a low-carbon economy.

The petitioners highlighted that Pakistan had ratified the Paris Agreement and submitted its INDC, committing to a reduction of 20% of its 2030 projected GHG emissions, but then failed to engage in any renewable energy power project. This was seen to represent an abdication of the respondents’ responsibilities under the Public Trust Doctrine (namely their duty to act as trustees of the natural resources of the country), and a violation of the jurisprudence of the seized Court on environmental and climate justice.

Notably, the petitioners claimed that being women and mothers, they are particularly endangered by global warming and disadvantaged in the context of the climate crisis, as documented in scientific research and international reports. Therefore, the respondents have allegedly violated Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan in that climate change disproportionately affects the rights of the petitioners and more broadly of all Pakistani women.

The remedies demanded by the petitioners are: the declaration of the violation of the above-mentioned fundamental rights and of the breach of Pakistan’s commitments under the Paris Agreement; the declaration of a positive duty on the respondents to encourage and support the development of renewable energy projects to reduce GHG emissions and mitigate climate change impacts; the order to implement and enforce the Paris Agreement to the fullest extent possible and to create and implement an integrated policy towards climate resilient development.

Date of filing:
14 February 2019, Misc. Writ 8960/19

Date of last hearing:
21 January 2021

High Court of Lahore, Pakistan


  • Petition (in English, via Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s Global Climate Litigation Database)
  • Order (in English, via Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s Global Climate Litigation Database)

More information:
Independently of the above-summarized judicial proceeding, on 21 July 2022, the Government of Pakistan adopted the “Climate Change Gender Action Plan of the Government and People of Pakistan” (you can read it here).

Last Updated:
18 May 2023

2018 Adaptation Domestic court Farming Human dignity Pakistan Right to a healthy environment Right to life

Leghari v. Pakistan

In Leghari v. Pakistan, a farmer claimed that his fundamental rights, including the right to life, the right to a healthy environment and human dignity, had been violated by the failure to take action against climate change, which was already impacting Pakistan in the form of floods and other climactic changes. The High Court of Lahore granted his claims in 2015, finding that the government had failed to implement its own Climate Change Policy and the corresponding implementation framework. The Court created a Climate Change Commission to monitor the government’s response.

Arguments by the applicant:
The applicant submitted that the domestic National Climate Change Policy of 2012 and the Framework for its implementation had not been implemented. Absent strategies to transition to heat resilient crops or to conserve water, he argued, he would not be able to sustain his livelihood as a farmer. He submitted that this inaction had violated his fundamental rights, in particular, Article 9 (right to life, including the right to a healthy and clean environment) and Article 14 (human dignity) of the Constitution, along with the constitutional principles of social and economic justice. In doing so, he also invoked the principles of public trust, sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the principle of intergenerational equity. The most immediate and serious threat to Pakistan, he argued, concerned water, food and energy security.

The High Court of Lahore granted Mr. Leghari’s claims on 4 September 2015, finding that “the delay and lethargy of the State in implementing the Framework offend the fundamental rights of the citizens.” It ordered the government to nominate “climate change focal persons” to help ensure the implementation of the domestic legal Framework and to identify action points. To monitor the government’s progress, it also created a Climate Change Commission made up of government representatives, NGOs, and technical experts. A supplemental decision of 14 September 2015 nominated 21 Commission members and granted this body various powers. On 25 January 2018, the Court considered a report from the Climate Change Committee finding that, until January 2017, 66% of the Framework for Implementation Climate Change Policy’s priority actions had been implemented. The Court accordingly dissolved the Climate Change Commission, creating a Standing Committee on Climate Change in its place.

In the 2018 judgment, the Court considered the need for environmental, climate and water justice, and the need for both mitigation and, in the specific case of Pakistan, adaptation measures in response to climate change. It noted that “we have to move on. The existing environmental jurisprudence has to be fashioned to meet the needs of something more urgent and overpowering i.e., Climate Change.” (para. 12). It held, too, that “[f]rom Environmental Justice, which was largely localized and limited to our own ecosystems and biodiversity, we have moved on to Climate Justice.” (para. 20).

Further reading:
Birsha Ohdedar, ‘Climate Change Litigation in India and Pakistan: Analyzing Opportunities and Challenges’, in Ivano Alogna, Christine Bakker, and Jean-Pierre Gauci (eds), Climate Change Litigation: Global Perspectives (Brill | Nijhoff 2021), 103-123,

Ivan Mark Ladores, ‘In the Name of Climate Change: How Leghari v Federation of Pakistan is Instrumental to the Pursuit of the Right to Life in the Philippines’, 5(2) Groningen Journal of International Law (2017),

Emily Barritt and Boitumelo Sediti, ‘The Symbolic Value of Leghari v Federation of Pakistan: Climate Change Adjudication in the Global South’ 30(2) King’s Law Journal (2019) 203-210, 10.1080/09615768.2019.1648370.

Suggested citation:
Lahore High Court, Asghar Leghari v. Pakistan, Case W.P. No. 25501/2015, Judgment of 25 January 2018.