Pakistan witnessed the most lethal and unprecedented flooding this year causing a havoc across the state. One-third of the country was under water and flash floods, generated by abnormal monsoon rains have so far killed more than 1600 people. A total of 80 districts have been declared as calamity hit covering a massive area of Sindh and Balochistan in south, Gilgit and KPK in the north. Around 1.1 million homes have been damaged and around 436k have been completely destroyed.
The flood effected lives of around 33 million people. Though, the water is now receding, but housing and livelihood is still not restored. Most of the people are currently living in ad hoc camps with virtually no sanitation & hygiene facilities. The access to medication is nil with a very little amount of food for a large number of people. The total economic loss to the country was recorded to be $30 billion. More than 2 million acres of crops and orchard have been impacted.
The point to be noted here is that despite of producing less than one per cent of global carbon emissions, why Pakistan should be bear the burden of an accelerating climate crisis. The country has ranked at the top 10 most vulnerable countries in the Global Climate Risk Index consistently over the past 20 years. As Julien Harneis, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan says: ‘This super flood is driven by climate change — the causes are international’.
The latest victim of a global climate crisis are the people of Pakistan who have contributed almost nothing to trigger it. The rich countries and corporate polluters were at the helm to bring this crisis internationally. International analysts and activists have acknowledged the fact and they ask for a rightful compensation to the already struggling economy of Pakistan in the shape of reparations.
Another way forward can be debt cancellation, as the debt injustice and climate crisis go hand in hand.an official on the crisis situation in Pakistan said; We are now taking out more loans to simply pay off the interest of our previous debts. “The money sent out of Pakistan to pay off our international creditors could be spent instead on rehabilitating the millions who are displaced.” After such devastation hit the low income countries the governments face a shortfall in funding and as a result have little choice but to take out further loans to rebuild communities and livelihoods.
The country that is already facing an economic turmoil and has to payback a hefty amount of debt got itself stuck in this situation where it has to bear the burden of international climate crisis is extremely unfair. The International organizations such as United Nations, ICJ, and other relevant orgs working for member states were established to share this responsibility to do justice with countries who have genuine issues such as faced by Pakistan. Pakistan will have had to pay a total of $38 billion to the World Bank, IMF and other financial institutes by the end of this year. Would it be just to ask for these payments from Pakistan despite of what has happened with the country due to the mistakes of other nations?
Pakistan currently faces an impending economic crisis due to the spiral of borrowing being generated by the successive governments. The degree of indebtedness has reduced Pakistan’s ability to invest in education and healthcare infrastructure. The Global support in such a situation is a dire need and it must be provided to save a responsible nation from a looming havoc. The first step should be to cancel the debts on Pakistan and an increased climate finance support. The powerful nations must help Pakistan to build infrastructure in order to compensate the damages both existing and looming due to the climate degradation they are causing.
It’s not the first time a country has asked for compensations from the rich countries on climate chaos but each time they were blocked. The world must understand that the climate concerns leads to poverty and inflation that leads to deterioration of human security and it can cause anarchy. A nuclear state must be saved from such a situation because it can cause complete destruction across the globe. Waiving debts is not something out of the box many low and medium income countries were provided this waiver multiple times. So, Pakistan must be supported in this crisis otherwise the whole world would suffer.
Humais Sheikh is an independent Defence Analyst based in Islamabad. He has completed his Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad.