While the government has been trying to firefight the rising political heatwave, the actual heatwave has also been showing its ugly face with Balochistan forests being ablaze recently. But that’s not the only forest fire that has erupted this year. The fire in Koh-e-Sulaiman Range in the Shirani district of Balochistan is among a couple of others, though it has been the most raging one.
The fire in Balochistan pine (Chilghoza) forests extended beyond a week before the local firefighters, federal and disaster management authorities, army, and Iranian firefighting aircraft finally put it out. Besides the loss of lives and injuries sustained to three and five people, respectively, this even raises three concerns:
First is the negligence, non-seriousness, and inaction or slow action by the authorities, which is opposite to the warning signs that are being issued for Pakistan for a long time. Climate change is a reality that has hit Pakistan much more severely. The country is categorized among the top affected countries by climate and environmental changes. In the last Climate Risk Index, Pakistan stood at the 8th position. The Global Food Policy Report 2022 has shown the rising intensity and severity of droughts and heatwaves in the country. Global Land Outlook then highlights the land degradation and desertification challenge in Pakistan.
Second, the forest fire not only took away a few lives, but its size resulted in the thereat of animals and birds extinction and displacement of several residents of neighboring villages to move to safer locations. This is a significant blow to the ecology of the area.
And third, it raises questions about the federal and provincial disaster management authorities’ capacity and ability to manage and avert such an environmental crisis. Maybe if the capacity building were more apt with the national giving the provinces their rights under the NFC award where forestation is primarily a provincial subject, such an event would have been handled well.