Abdul Basit analyses the difficult situation post-flood situation faced by Pakistan
Despite massive efforts to divert attention from the national trauma tragedy brought about by the unprecedented flooding, the fact remains that the country will take a considerably long time to recover from the devastation. It is a pity to witness that the ruling circles have employed the usual tricks of keeping the nation engaged in frivolous issues such as audio leaks and Imran Khan’s agitation so that the impact of the flooding could be hidden from the public eye but ultimately it will be people who will have to bear the burden of this calamity and will surely raise questions about the lack of collective control.
Though there is hardly a doubt that horrific floods this year were radically different yet it must be accepted that the state apparatus should accept that it failed to exercise even a modicum of control over such a disaster despite warnings spread over a span of years.
It is quite obvious that such warnings can be traced to those human activities that evidently led to climate change in the first place and there is very little excuse to get away by stating that Pakistan has very little to contribute to the world’s vast carbon emissions as this is the worst of the lame excuses as Pakistan is part of the planet and cannot escape its fortune, good or bad.
Global fraternity Pakistan
It may, however, be conceded that while being part of the global fraternity Pakistan may expect global support and that it is gradually receiving but the question still remains why do the Pakistani policymakers not realize that they are most vulnerable to climate change due to their precarious location? It has been pointed out time and again that the Himalayan region is susceptible to radical changes owing to the massive alteration in climate change and Pakistan has consistently witnessed variation in rain and icefalls.
Pakistan has seen terrible disasters in its hill stations and torrential rains in its agricultural regions destroying its crops. Such situations had happened not rarely but quite regularly in the last two decades. Moreover, the country has also seen periodic spells of intense drought giving rise to interprovincial discord over water distribution. These instances should have been enough for the policymakers to urgently devise appropriate policies and national trauma.
Probably the Pakistani policymakers take cover behind the fact that climate change is not as visible as they expect it to be and they want environmental science to provide them with more solid data. But what more data do they need? Climate change is hidden in a complex chain of responsibility where historic levels of carbon emissions impact environmental outcomes and it is simply too cumbersome a process to observe.
In all fairness, the global narrative today reflects this dichotomy where the science may be clear but individual responsibility is much harder to see intuitively and what is needed is an inference that is sadly missing in the staid bureaucratic thinking. This is the fatal flaw that has shifted towards the shaky political leadership that puts it on the back burner and then gets busy fighting for its political survival.
Global Climate Disaster
Hopefully, the current disaster experienced by Pakistan may convince global climate change activists to shift their attention towards Pakistan as the most vulnerable area to be in the danger zone where the next calamity may befall. Pakistan is the place where global collective responsibility is required to be exercised as the Pakistani state is simply not in a position to handle matters.
It is noted that the current international response remains voluntary and ad hoc but what is required is to convert it into a global narrative and eventually the nature of the response to national trauma and climate change-related disasters. It must be borne in mind that Pakistan may only be the first country in a series of such countries where such collective global action would be required as climate change has already arrived with all its horrific attributes.
It is already known that rising sea levels threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions living in coastal areas. In addition, global warming is likely to exacerbate water shortages in water-stressed regions globally and a warmer Earth planet will lead to higher rates of animal extinction which will have consequences for the global ecosystem and food supply that is already under stress due to Covid pandemic and global supply chain restrictions.
These factors call for rolling out an action plan much earlier than expected and physically assigning responsibility through UN agencies for taking concrete physical steps aimed at mitigating the negative impact of climate change. Such an action may be enshrined in the statute of the UN so that it becomes mandatory and any assistance provided under it comes properly structured and reaches the affectees in time. The Weekender