Friday June 21, 2024

Appeal to the North

By Editorial Board
September 17, 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif raised the issue of climate change at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit yesterday and highlighted how the devastating floods in Pakistan are climate change-induced. He has asked the international community to ‘build a wall’ against climate change, emphasizing that a well thought out and sustainable plan is the only way forward. The UN chief too has highlighted Pakistan’s need for a massive inflow of financial resources to cope with the devastation by the climate-induced floods. He has specifically underscored the urgency of wealthy countries’ help to Pakistan without losing ‘one moment’. This discussion around climate change is extremely important – even if a little late. The floods in Pakistan have been an eye-opener for the global community.

The UN chief’s visit to Pakistan was timely and drew the attention of the world to the tragedy Pakistan is going through. Sadly the world’s response has been inadequate to say the least. Whenever such a gigantic catastrophe strikes a country, the global response is usually prompt and pertinent. In Pakistan’s case now the need for the rich countries’ help is particularly dire as the climate crisis is not something that Pakistan was responsible for. In a way, most industrialized and rich countries have betrayed the developing countries located in the Global South. It is a gross injustice for countries such as Pakistan to bear the brunt of such staggering devastation and then left to its own devices. At the heart of the issue is a sense of responsibility that rich countries must show and loosen their purse strings.

It is extremely important for Pakistan to raise the issue of climate change at every international forum. Despite the IMF programme, we have not been able to bring down the dollar rate against the Pakistani rupee. This has only added to our economic woes. There is a growing worry in the market about Pakistan’s economic survival after the floods. The world must show solidarity with Pakistan at the upcoming apex forum of the world community. While the UN is doing whatever it can with its limited resources, there is a need to extend all aid and support to Pakistan and to the UN to spearhead relief and restoration efforts. In addition to the rich countries, it is international financial institutions as well that have enormous financial capacity to extend their hand for Pakistan. Since the vast majority of carbon emissions originated from the countries in the Global North, there is no excuse to shirk their obligation now. From droughts and fires to the recent floods, the deteriorating climatic condition is the trigger behind all the chaos. Since now Pakistan deserves and needs new infrastructure that must be climate-resilient to withstand the pressures of floods, the leading economies must come up with aid programmes in support of Pakistan.

From crops and houses to infrastructure and livestock the damage estimate is over $30 billion now. The flood-affected people are reeling under inhuman conditions and infectious diseases are spreading fast. A cause of concern is also the complaint by the Sindh chief minister who has pointed out that all foreign aid is being channeled through Islamabad and Punjab, causing delays in transportation. The NDMA generally receives the aid coming from abroad and then forwards it to provinces. All processes must be made as seamless as possible so that those that are in need of shelter, food, and clothing don’t have to lose even their dignity begging for help.