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Ignoring the cries of those affected by climate change



This year, Pakistan has faced the most monstrous climate catastrophe in the country’s history, leaving a third of land mass here under water.

The sheer staggering numbers of people affected by the monsoons and the ensuing floods are increasing by the day, the majority of them women and children. However, climate change is more than just changing temperatures and weather patterns. The estimated number of people affected is comparable to the entire population of Manchester.

The monsoons and floods which have affected coastal regions in Sindh have destroyed precious farmland, homes, livestock, and taken more than 1300 lives, a third of which are children. The problem now is the water left behind by the flood which is proving difficult to remove. It has become a reservoir for mosquitoes and water-borne diseases, further adding to the suffering of those still stuck there.

Since the water has stagnated in cotton and crop farms, that means a looming toll on the major industrial backbone of Pakistan’s economy which is already under pressure from growing inflation.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has estimated that about 80-90 per cent of main crops, such as rice, wheat, sugarcane, and vegetables, have been washed away by the flood, showing how grim the situation truly is. His efforts have been crucial to getting global attention, especially from the IMF and China. During his speech at the Ministerial Meeting in New York earlier this year, the foreign minister had said: “Hunger has no nationality, poverty does not care for the colour of our skin, viruses, bacteria and infections do not recognize borders, rising sea levels, and the threat of climate catastrophe does not recognize ethnicities”.

In his speech, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also held our history of colonialism and international political warfare accountable, a part of history that has left humanitarian crises in its wake. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s endeavours to bring solutions and change as part of climate diplomacy have been a ray of hope for all those people and areas affected.

The IMF has released $1.1 billion in aid, although it is estimated that we might need $20 billion dollars to help the catastrophe affectees return to their normal lives. China has been a quick responder to our situation as well, sending multiple necessary items as emergency humanitarian relief.

Despite the timely help, aid has been slow to reach the affected areas due to multiple factors. First, a lot of the disaster-hit areas are not accessible via land, and many people are stuck without food, aid, and clean drinking water. Second, there is mass migration of people trying to leave the areas subject to extreme weather conditions, floods, and wildfires. Third, the glaciers which provide water for crops and drinking, are melting and receding. The vast extent of global warming and its effects are uncountable.

Houses can be rebuilt, crops can be salvaged, but precious lives cannot be brought back. It is our duty to understand the extent of the devastating effects of climate change, and work to halt the progression if not entirely reverse it. The three main goals in the Paris Agreement include reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, mobilizing funds for those affected by extreme global warming catastrophes, and adapting to climate impacts.

In Pakistan, the city of Jacobabad in the Sindh province experienced temperatures of 51 degrees Celsius in the spring, and is one of the most devastated cities after the floods. Pakistan is responsible for approximately less than one per cent of global greenhouse emissions, so why is it bearing the brunt of the catastrophe? Many demand reparations in the form of monetary aid as well as cancelling debts as part of climate compensation.

The cost of climate catastrophe recovery is calculated to be at around $20 billion. Western countries have a big role in bringing the world’s climate to this stage and they must pay back reparations for all the damage they have caused. They must be held responsible. The poor are not the ones who caused climate change. Our people are not responsible for climate change the way the US, UK, Russia or China are. What may seem a distant effect of global warming to them will fast become a stark reality if we don’t work to stop burning fossil fuels and ignoring the cries of the affected.

The writer is a member of the Sindh Assembly

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Haj 2024: Pakistanis to get ‘free SIMs with internet’




Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed said Tuesday that the government would provide free-of-cost mobile SIMs with roaming internet packages to Pakistanis performing Haj in 2024.

In conversation with a private news channel, the caretaker minister said abayas would also be given to female pilgrims, having a Pakistani flag on the backside, and 13kg suitcases would be given to all.

The minister called the reduction of around Rs100,000 in the Haj cost a “historic step” taken by the caretaker government, noting that a further Rs50,000 would be slashed and the amount would be refunded to the people in their accounts.

He said a new mobile application has been designed to assist pilgrims, which will provide navigation support and enable constant communication between pilgrims and relevant officials.

Initially available in English and Urdu, the application will later incorporate various regional languages, he said, adding, that the app would also provide digital training programmes to every pilgrim.

The minister also disclosed a project that Haj ministry, with the collaboration of the education ministry, has planned to convert city mosques into schools to enroll out-of-school children where the mosques’ imams would play a leading role.

The minister said that mosques will play their role as community centers in every city areas, adding that imams will resolve community issues as well after offering prayers.

He said that haj ministry is taking all four provinces on board and enhancing the connectivity of mosques.

While describing another project, the minister said that his ministry with the collaboration of the health ministry has another project in the works, in which medical clinics will also be part of mosques.

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Three education board chairmen, several officers sacked in Sindh




KARACHI: Sindh caretaker Chief Minister Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqir Thursday approved the removal of three chairmen of education boards and ordered the sacking of several officers, Geo News reported, citing notifications from the CM House.

The interim chief executive removed the chairpersons of the Board of Intermediate Karachi, Sindh Technical Board, and Larkana boards. He also ordered the sacking of secretaries and controller examinations of BIEK, Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur, and Larkana boards.

Moreover, Larkana, Sukkur, Nawabshah, and Board of Secondary Education Karachi’s audit officers were also removed from their posts.

The Sindh government has also sought permission from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to appoint new personnel to the now-vacant positions — as interim rulers need the body’s approval for hiring people.

In the letter addressed to the commission, the government has also said that in several education boards across the province, top posts are being operated on “stop-gap” arrangements and in order for these departments to function better, permanent appointments need to be made.

According to the notifications available with Geo News, Justice (retd) Baqir has removed BIEK Chairman Dr Prof Naseem Memon and appointed him as the Board of Intermediate & Secondary Education Larkana’s (BISEL) chairman — where he will serve till June 30, 2024.

Zaheeruddin Bhutto, interim controller of examination of BIEK, was removed from his post effective immediately, while BIEK Secretary Kashif Siddiqui was also sacked — and he will return to his previous position.

Zahid Lakho, the audit officer of BIEK, was also stripped of his additional charge of the board’s secretary.

BISEL Chairman Sikandar Ali Miraj has also been removed with immediate effect, and he will be returning to his original post of Inspector of Instruction.

BISEL Controller Examination Nadeem Soomro has been removed from his position and directed to report to the Human Settlement and Social Housing Department.

On the instructions of the caretaker CM, Syed Aqash Shah was relieved of the charge of BISEL’s acting secretary.

Hyderabad board’s secretary Shaukat Khanzada was also removed from his post and directed to report to the college education department. Zahiruddin Sheikh, the audit officer of the Hyderabad board, has been sacked and asked to report to the board’s head office.

Ghulam Mustafa was removed from the post of BISEL’s audit officer and directed to report to the post of deputy controller.

Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sukkur (BISES) Secretary Mohammad Salman has been removed and asked to report to the deputy secretary’s office. BISES Controller Examination Dr Abdul Fateh Mehr has been removed and asked to report to the secretary’s office.

The caretaker chief minister has also removed Ghulam Qadir Dharijo, the audit officer of BISES, and directed him to report to the chairman’s office.

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Punjab to shut down school, colleges in Punjab’s smog-hit areas on Friday, Saturday




  • Lahore, Gujranwala among cities hit by smog.
  • Markets and restaurants to open for work at 3pm on Fri and Sat.
  • Govt offices to remain open on Fri; will start work at 3pm on Sat.

LAHORE: All schools, colleges and universities will remain closed on Friday and Saturday, as Punjab on Thursday notified measures to curb smog across the province as it impacts the daily life of citizens.

Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi, who chaired a high-level meeting of the Punjab Cabinet Anti-Smog Committee today, announced the provincial government’s decision during a presser in Lahore.

The smog-hit cities include Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Sahiwal, Sargodha, Kasur, Sheikupura, Hafizabad, Narowal, Nankana Sahib and Sialkot.

Markets and restaurants, he added, will open for work at 3pm on Friday and Saturday, while all kinds of businesses will have to be closed on Sunday. 

“Markets can remain open till night. We don’t want anyone to suffer loss, but they will have to adjust according to the situation.”

CM Punjab said offices will remain operational on Friday but will open for work at 3pm on Saturday. These measures, the chief minister added, are being taken as Air Quality Index (AQI) levels are higher in the morning and decrease with time.

The government will also install towers to clear smog in Lahore for which, CM Punjab said, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed.

He added that the government will also provide electric bikes to 10,000 students on subsidy to curb the use of regular motorcycles which cause air pollution for which a committee has been formed to finalise suggestions. Meanwhile, government employees will also be provided e-bikes on lease.

CM Punjab said the government is considering measures for artificial rain if clouds approach Lahore on November 29. 

However, that will only happen if a “specific kind of cloud” moves towards the city. The government has also decided to double the amount of water being sprinkled on the streets.

The chief minister said the main Mall Road on Sunday will only be open for bicycle users from morning till 5pm. Some of the measures, CM Naqvi said, have been taken symbolically, some are long-term, while others have been taken to break the peak of pollution in the city and province.

He also urged people to wear masks to protect their health.

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