This year, the monsoon season began in Pakistan in mid-June. Nearly the whole country experienced flooding due to the two months of nonstop rain, with Balochistan suffering the worst. Due to the extensive level of destruction these floods have wreaked, they have become the talk of the town. The most current statistics show that over 1500 people have perished, 12,703 have been hurt, 5,735 km of highways have been devastated, 246 bridges have been demolished or swept away, 1,688,005 homes have been destroyed, and 750,481 animals have perished. 33 million individuals have been impacted overall, in one way or another. Reuters reports that Pakistan has lost a total of almost $30 billion. Keep in mind that these are reported estimates; actual casualties or losses may be greater.
Considering a few questions is worthwhile in the midst of tremendous destruction. Were the earthquakes in 2005 and the floods in 2010 not enough to warn the country of impending similar events, let alone get ready for them? Are government officials taking climate change seriously? Are wealthy nations prepared to make up for the losses, especially if their development comes at the expense of our destruction? These are the few crucial issues on which this article is predicated. It seeks to respond to them before defining a course of action.
In the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty clearly states that He does not like corruption (Surah Baqarah: 205); He orders that corruption not be caused on earth (Al-Araf: 56); He curses the corrupt (Al-Rad: 25) and does not like corrupters (Al-Qasass: 77); and He warns corrupters of the consequences and asks them to return to righteousness (Ar-Rum: 41).
Sadly, corruption exists in practically every aspect of Pakistani life. The function of a dam is to impound (store) water, wastewater, or liquid-borne materials for a variety of purposes, including flood control, human water supply, irrigation, cattle water supply, energy generation, containment of mining tailings, recreation, or pollution control.
In contrast, 12 dams have burst in Balochistan alone as a result of the flooding, and their breaking was caused by the precise thing that they were built for. The provincial administration disputes the claims that corruption and poor workmanship were to blame for dam collapses. Balochistan’s connection to the rest of the country was severed by the loss of sixteen bridges.
What is more regrettable is that when gas pipes were swept away and people started turning to tandoors for bread, the cost of chapati in the provincial capital Quetta increased from Rs 25 to Rs 40, hovering around Rs 50 per piece. Prices for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) also increased by 200–400%. LPG prices per kilogramme increased from Rs 150 to Rs 400, and in certain locations, up to Rs 500-550. When there was a danger of a shortage, traders began to stockpile flour.
This reveals a lot about the corruption in our culture and its effects on inefficiency and poor management. Otherwise, we would have been sufficiently prepared after the calamities in 2005 and 2010 to save our people in the future. Geoscientist Hassan Aftab makes a convincing case in “The New Humanitarian” that post-disaster responses such as relief efforts, financial support for building new homes, and the purchase of animals are insufficient. Since these calamities will become more frequent and we won’t be able to respond as effectively, the government needs to recognise how important it is to concentrate on risk reduction and the building of resilient infrastructure. To set an example, those who profit from such catastrophes should be prosecuted.
Additionally, the government did not treat climate change with the seriousness it deserved. According to the Economic Survey 2019–20 of the nation, climate change was predicted to have significant effects on the nation, including decreased agricultural productivity, increased water availability variability, increased coastal erosion, seawater intrusion, and an increase in the frequency of extreme climate change events, according to the Economic Survey 2019–20.
Between 1999 and 2018, just 152 severe weather occurrences were recorded in Pakistan. According to an ADB estimate, “the socioeconomic consequences of environmental deterioration are significant, with demands for climate adaptation ranging between $7 and $14 billion annually.”
How could the government not consider post-disaster management if such events were predicted? Affected parties, as previously indicated, are dissatisfied with the government’s lack of openness and support. Even though the federal government has introduced a “Digital Flood Dashboard” to enhance openness in the distribution of funding, the affected people’s complaints are more obvious than their happiness.
Hassan Aftab claims that both the provincial and federal administrations are making climate change the victim of their negligence. Given that Pakistan has been prone to such disasters since the early 2000s, it makes some sense, but pre-and-post disaster measures are mostly absent or are not well anticipated, especially in Balochistan and Sindh.
Thirdly, although producing less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan is the ninth most susceptible nation to climate change, according to the World Bank. In other words, Pakistan is paying the price for the advancement of industrialised nations. In exchange, it only received a Rs 10 billion budgetary allotment to combat climate change this year.
Sara Hayat, a lawyer and expert on climate change policy, argues persuasively in “The New Humanitarian” that countries like Pakistan should vehemently seek climate reparations. The wealthy world is supposed to finance the poor world, according to the Paris Agreement. Pakistan needs to get more cash in that situation since we are more susceptible than the Global North. She continues: “This time, those accountable for climate change ought to bear financial responsibility” that countries like Pakistan should vehemently seek climate reparations. The wealthy world is supposed to finance the poor world, according to the Paris Agreement. Pakistan needs to get more cash in that situation since we are more susceptible than the Global North. She continues: “This time, those accountable for climate change ought to bear financial responsibility.”
In addition, the WHO has issued a warning over health risks in the nation due to the damage that the floods have caused to 1,460 medical facilities. It has issued advisories on cholera and other water-borne diseases. According to UNICEF, these diseases can result in several child fatalities. Even more concerning is the expectation that the prevalence of malaria, COVID-19, and dengue will increase even higher in congested camps.
Because the country as a whole did not take seriously the need to prepare for such natural disasters and because the international community, particularly the countries with high carbon emissions like the USA, China, India, Germany, and Russia, did not reduce their carbon emissions, Pakistan has suffered greatly as a result of these floods.
During his recent visit to Pakistan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the following statement: “Wealthier countries are morally responsible for helping developing countries like Pakistan recover from disasters like these and to adapt, to build resilience to climate impacts that, unfortunately, will be repeated in the future.”
Although the USA, UK, Canada, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and Singapore are the major donors in the Pak-UN joint call for an initial funding of $160 million, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis claims that this flash appeal is insufficient.
In this trying time, experts have also advised “debt exchange.” In a debt exchange, nations invest in environmentally friendly infrastructure rather than making payments to creditors. The UN Secretary-General has also pushed for debt swaps that would require Pakistan to spend its resources on infrastructure restoration and reconstruction rather than repay its loans.
The government should allow for openness in the distribution of aid and facilities to those in need. To prevent people from being forced to deal with price gouging during these difficult times, law enforcement organisations like the police should closely regulate the pricing of basic items in marketplaces. The individuals residing in the camps should have access to healthcare facilities. Every effort should be made by both the public and the authorities to return the lives of the impacted to normal. Pakistan should stop making payments on its debt. Since Secretary-General Guterres correctly stated, “Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our world by climate change,” wealthy countries should assist Pakistan in these trying times and review their carbon emission programmes. It is Pakistan right now. It may be your nation tomorrow.