- Unmoved by the widespread havoc
On Monday, a rain and dust storm lashed all the provinces of the country, causing havoc in different ways at different places while killing 25 people and injuring 179. In Punjab, there were reports about damage to crops, roofs blown up and walls collapsing in villages, small towns and slum areas. In Karachi casualties were caused by trees falling under the pressure of the dust storm while fishermen were reported missing in the sea. In Balochistan 150 Hindu yaatrees trapped by flooded streams had to be evacuated through helicopter. Balochistan faced a flood-like situation following a new spell of heavy rainfall which claimed at least 13 lives and left over100 missing. The province has been hit by untimely rains and storms for three consecutive months and KP for two. In the latest incident in KP, three people in Chitral died as a house collapsed under a landslide.
PM’s Climate Change Advisor Amin Aslam, who happens to be the most reticent among the PM’s team mates, has consistently maintained silence about the havoc being caused by climate change, as if this was an insignificant matter. While people were being washed away by flash floods, buried under landslides and dying under collapsing roofs, he was on Twitter waxing lyrical over “The magic of the Billion Tree Tsunami” or condemning “India’s shameful surgical strike against Nature and Forests”.
The PTI government needs to ponder the extent of the damage that has been done by climate change in Pakistan. Rains, storms, flash floods and rising temperatures are affecting all the four provinces, besides AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, with increased frequency and destructive force. The weather predictions by the Pakistan Meteorological Department and the warnings to the population by the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority provide insufficient time to the population to fend for itself. The concerned agencies, that include police, Rescue 1122 and provincial disaster management authorities, are under-staffed, ill-equipped, and mostly urban-specific. The way climate change is hitting Pakistan, any extreme climate event can lead to a disaster. There is a need to strengthen the forecast and rescue bodies now rather than wring hands and blame the past governments when the tragedy occurs.