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Heatwaves, rains, floods: Climate change is here and Pakistan needs to act now

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Climate-induced migration is a harsh reality that Pakistan faces. Not everyone will be able to go back to their original place of residence after the waters recede, in fact, that place may not exist anymore.

Social media is awash with horrifying images of the havoc monsoon rains that have wreaked on a wide swathe of Pakistan.

People living in low-lying areas, in the path of hill torrents, or on poorly made embankments are awash in the misery of floods brought in the wake of the monsoon spell.

However, if we remove the date from the posts, and newspaper and television reports, the realisation would dawn that we have seen such images many times in the past.

Repeatedly, there have been glacial lake outburst floods in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan, which rarely make it into the headlines.

Hill torrents raging down their beds, streams and rivers bursting their banks and sweeping away whatever comes in their way in Balochistan, leading to massive damage and loss of lives and livestock are a familiar feature whenever there are torrential rains. These have been alternating with the other extreme of drought, to which this region is also prone.

Sindh suffers from too little, and then too much water. This year, like a previous couple of years, the monsoon has been punishing and relentless.

Its towns and cities are inundated and there seems to be no end to the misery of the people because the water levels are not subsiding. The provincial capital, Karachi, has taken a battering due to unprecedented rains that have broken all previous records.

While parts of Punjab suffered from what is still being called a ‘pre-monsoon’ spell, with heavy rain and hail storms in March which flattened standing crops. And all of the above came on the heels of a severe heat spell that impacted all parts of the country, even the northern glacial valleys, which experienced temperatures in excess of 30 degrees centigrade.

What is causing the extreme weather events in Pakistan?

Well, this is what climate scientists and meteorological experts have been warning about for years now.

The unpredictability, frequency, and ferocity of weather events are one of the manifestations of climate change. Rising sea surface temperatures mean more moisture uptake by the weather systems, which then drop them over the land in unprecedented volumes. Our systems are just not geared to cope with even half that volume.

Hence, we see the flooded streets and overflowing drains in the cities.

Nature manifests its wrath at the obstructions put in its way by humans by reclaiming the river and stream beds, and slopes stripped barren off the soil binding tree cover by bringing down boulders and debris in the hill tracts and alongside the river banks.

Former director general of Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, Dr Qamaruzzaman Chaudhury, has said that the erratic nature of the precipitation and extreme events are a clear indication of the impacts of climate change.

This is why Pakistan must focus on ‘Climate Proofing’ its infrastructure and systems against the shocks of nature. That is the only way to cope since there is little way of mitigation that we can do.

Could the damage have been minimized?

Yes. As Arif Goheer, a scientist at the Islamabad-based Global Change Impacts Studies Center points out that the warning had been sounded way back in April by the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum.

The outlook was developed by climate experts from eight South Asian countries, as well as international experts doing climate modelling.

Heatwaves, rains, floods: Climate change is here and Pakistan needs to act now

The map clearly shows the extent and the intensity predicted. The period being cited is June to September, which means more is yet to come.

Usually, in Pakistan, the monsoon commences in August. This year June and July have been debilitating. On the basis of this information, Pakistan’s own Meteorological Department put out the Monsoon Outlook on June 7.

But were the municipal services ready? No.

Were the disaster ‘management’ bodies ready? No.

Were the communication departments of the provinces, responsible for roads and bridges, ready? No.

We are seeing the same reactive response that we have seen in the wake of natural disasters before, therefore rescue and relief. While rehabilitation is still a long way off.

Why were the vulnerable areas not mapped? Why were rescue parties not posted before bridges collapsed and roads were washed away?

Thankfully Pakistan has community organizations and philanthropic organisations, which have morphed into disaster management organisations that always swing into action when disaster strikes.

These organisations rely on the large-heartedness of fellow Pakistanis. But instead of them acting as supplementing the efforts of the government agencies, they assume the role of the primary relief providers.

Climate change is not something in the future. It is here and now.

Knee jerk actions like rescue and relief, which are the need of the hour, will not suffice.

Climate-induced migration is a harsh reality that Pakistan faces. Not everyone will be able to go back to their original place of residence after the waters recede, in fact, that place may not exist anymore. Or may have been stripped of all the resources that allowed them to make a living there.

An infrastructure audit needs to be done.

We are a data deficient country. But if there is one thing that climate change needs to change is the ad hoc approach to dealing with disasters like the present rains.

We need to map out vulnerable ecosystems, people and biodiversity in those regions and see how to shore up the coping mechanisms.

The science-academia-government departments’ nexus needs to be built and strengthened if we are to get out of the reactive mode.


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The year’s longest day and shortest night are both today.

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The nation is experiencing an increase in oppressive heat. The longest day and shortest night of the year are respectively observed on this Friday.

Summer solstice is the name given to this event.

Because of the tilt of the Earth, the Summer Solstice happens twice a year when one of the poles is at its greatest degree towards the sun.

While the winter solstice occurs in December in the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs in June in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is the longest day of the year, June 21st.

The shortest night of the year, nevertheless, will occur today.

14 hours will pass during the day and 10 hours during the night, according to the report.

Beginning on July 1, the day will progressively get shorter as June draws to a close.

The event known as equinox occurs on September 22, when day and night have equal lengths.

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Authorities report that during the Hajj, 35 Pakistani pilgrims perished from the intense heat.

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Thirty-five Pakistani pilgrims have died, according to the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Abdul Wahab Soomro, the DG of the Hajj Mission, claims that nine Pakistanis perished in Mashair, four in Mina, three in Arafat, and two in Muzdalifah.

According to the Hajj DG, six pilgrims from Pakistan died in Medina and twenty died in Makkah.

According to the DG, the extreme 50 degree Celsius heat was the reason for the deaths. According to him, there was no basis for the claim that the pilgrims were neglected.

According to him, the Saudi government was informed of the remains, and the funeral plans were set up in compliance with the families’ desires. According to Soomro, plans had also been made to transfer the bodies to Pakistan.

He claimed that in these kinds of situations, the Saudi and Pakistani governments have always worked together.

Over 1,000 people have died.

According to AFP, more over 1,000 people have died during this year’s Hajj. According to the report, over 50% of them were unregistered worshippers who underwent the sweltering Saudi Arabian journey.

An Arab ambassador gave a breakdown of the 658 Egyptians who died, indicating that 630 were unregistered pilgrims. Of the additional deaths announced on Thursday, 58 came from Egypt.

One of the five pillars of Islam, which all Muslims who have the means to do so must at least once, the annual pilgrimage, has resulted in 1,081 deaths overall, according to reports from about ten different countries.

Official announcements or diplomats working on their countries’ responses have provided the data.

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Pakistan

As PM Shehbaz creates committees to address the PPP’s issues, a thaw is evident.

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In response to the issues brought up by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari during their meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has established committees.

The PPP heavyweights and PML-N leaders met after Bilawal did not attend the June 12 National Assembly session when the budget for the upcoming fiscal year 2024–25 was unveiled.

The PPP chief’s concerns were mostly addressed by the prime minister at the meeting, when he also ordered committees to look into his grievances.

Sources claim that on Friday, the committees would undertake discussions to settle the differences between the ruling parties.

Bilawal once voiced concern over the PPP’s lack of faith in the budget. He emphasised that the PML-N is not carrying out the arrangement that the PPP had made to support the government.

Additionally, he charged that the Punjabi government was erecting obstacles in the way of the PPP’s advancement in the region.

For the welfare of the people as well as the growth and prosperity of the nation, Prime Minister Shehbaz urged all political parties to cooperate.

Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Senate Chairman, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Syed Khursheed Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, and Sherry Rehman were among the PPP delegation members.

Speaking at the event, the premier stated that additional talks over the budget for 2024–2025 were held with the Pakistan Peoples Party. He claimed that although the stock market had seen an unprecedented boom, the economy was exhibiting encouraging signs.

He claimed that the new fiscal year’s budget included measures to help the average person. He promised that committees will continue to be used for further consultation.

Afterwards, the prime minister hosted a dinner reception in honour of the PPP delegation.

In attendance were Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Ministers for Planning and Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb and Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Political Affairs Rana Sanaullah, Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Ali Pervez Malik, and former federal minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

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