It is said, the lord gives, and the lord takes away. For Pakistan, there are 3 major signs of worry. You may only be aware of the heavy floods in the country but there is more. In this article let us dive into who is responsible and what lessons can be learned from Pakistan’s situatio
As of now, Pakistan is sinking underwater, and a state of emergency has been declared. Around 33 million people are affected, 66 districts are directly impacted and 5000 km of roads damaged. The southern province of Sindh is the worst impacted. Nearly 0.5 million people are in relief camps as of now.
This flood is as devastating as the 2010 flood in Pakistan when 2000 people lost their lives. But experts who track climate and environment are not surprised. Pakistan is 8th on the long-term global climate risk index – countries most affected by climate change whereas India is in the top 20 of these lists. A few months ago, in 2022 Pakistan went through a severe drought. The temperature climbed 51 degree Celsius in Jacobabad.
Pakistan is now witnessing a devastating flood of a decade. Almost $10 billion loss is estimated (to recover this much will take years). But expert prediction is that before it is recovered there might be another natural disaster. The UN secretary general said that Pakistan floods are monsoon on steroids. As shown in movies the natural calamity has increased manifold in impact and severity due to global warming these days.
As per UN climate analysis south Asia is a climate crisis hotspot and more prone than any other region and would claim more lives. UN estimates suggest 15% more deaths by climate change impact in next year.
Pakistan is saying the disaster is not their making as they only produce 1% global greenhouse gas emission, big nations generate a lot more emission which impacts small nations like Pakistan Is Pakistan right? Or was there some mistake on part of Pak as well? It is a grey area.
Climate change has played a role in floods, no doubt about that. Since the industrial era 1.2 degree rise in temperature has been observed globally That is what causes glacial melting in rapid pace. Pakistan has 7000 glaciers – the country with the most glaciers in the world and because of glacial melting the floods occurred. Also, Pakistan will witness more flooding of this magnitude as climate change has accelerated glacial melting and not allowing enough time to freeze.
Because this type of flood will impact Pakistan more in the coming years. If we limit change in temperature to only 1.5 degree – an overly ambitious and unlikely goal, even that won’t be enough to stop glacial melting.
Pakistan says, wealthy countries had pledged $100 billion to help poor countries impacted by environmental damage and wants some of them to be paid to Pakistan as aid now. The UK has initiated life support package FCDO, and the UK support has accumulated 15 million pounds emergency aid.
India has expressed grief over the Pakistan situation – although not direct help yet but if Pakistan demands it will be done. Pakistani PM thanked PM Narendra Modi for condolences and assured they’ll will solve the problem. Should India wait for Pakistan help request – what do you think?
The Economics Crisis
Now, moving on to where Pak committed mistakes. The other area Pak needs to worry about is sinking under debt. Pakistan economy is impacted by external as well as internal challenges (external Ukraine-Russia and internal policies).
The IMF now had approved a $1 billion bailout fund If it would not have approved, Pakistan would default on debt and a crisis like Sri Lanka could have happened. As per IMF, ‘Pakistan is at a challenging economic juncture’. Disruption in services and commodities, continuous price increase in the sensitive price index is the highest ever in history in Pakistan and the consumer price index is multi-decade high.
Daily use items like oil, vegetables, grains – everything has become more expensive – very high inflation ongoing. Some vegetables at 500/kg (Pak has to import others, may import onion from India, but there is still reluctance) Pak forex reserves are now only $8 billion whereas debt on Pakistan is in excess of $250 billion. How will Pakistan pay back this huge amount?
The Pakistan finance minister has already stated ‘bad days ahead’ – clear warning to Pak people. Now the blame game has begun – Imran Khan’s tenure is being blamed for the crisis by the government. The finance minister of Pak has decided to curb imports to save foreign reserves now.
Also, luxury goods import ban has been lifted but heavy duties will be imposed up to three times. Ministers trolled for statements like “Drink less tea as we import tea”. People were upset now and coming on to the streets.
The third reason why Pakistan is sinking is Politics. Extreme politics motivated by religion and conspiracy can lead to this situation of total disaster. Few past incidents show that Pakistan is sinking under political crisis.
In March no-confidence motion passed against Imran Khan. Then like a clock work of any power-hungry politician large rallies took place with dramatic appearances. He had filed a case in supreme court against his oust from the pm position and that is still ongoing. In April the Imran Khan govt ousted and a new govt formed but what happened after that?
The opposition wanted to remove Imran Khan as PM – removed as he was military voted, not elected. What did you have in mind? Nothing. Imran Khan immediately retaliated and wanted elections again In June. A fresh allegation that Imran Khan’s wife and friend earned billions during the tenure has surfaced. Argument counter arguments continued and at the same time, thank God Pak General Bajwa stated, the army won’t interfere, as it would be bad for democracy.
Imran Khan continues allegations on govt and govt is banning Imran Khan’s social media presence in return. Further allegation is that those close to Imran Khan are being tortured. Amid the natural crisis the political crisis is not stopping as well. Imran Khan’s policies and previous policies are also to be blamed. But while the blame game continues, people suffer.
Lesson for Bharat
What can Bharat learn from here? Every summer Indian scientists climb a glacier in Himachal Pradesh and set up their equipment, take readings to study the glacier temperature, its composition and condition. This year the glacier melted so much that their recording equipment drowned and could not be recovered.
So, the whole of Southeast Asia including India will be impacted by global warming and increasing pollution in the region. The question is not if but when. We could be vulnerable to dwindling water supplies. Flood followed by drought; this fluctuation as seen in Pak can repeat in India as well. The Indian economy has to strengthen.
At the same time, the administration has to actively work to tackle climate change because the calamity is only a question of WHEN.
You may read about: SriLankan Crisis