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EDITORIAL: Pakistan is concerned, and rightly so, that donors that pledged $10 billion in aid after last year’s devastating floods might have forgotten their promises; and now the fate of rehabilitation projects designed in accordance with the pledges hangs in the balance.

The country has struggled to bolster its foreign exchange reserves all this time, of course, and only barely managed to clinch a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF, thus avoiding immediate default, but at a very high price.

This makes for a very difficult situation, especially for the 33-35 million people that were directly affected by the floods. Without urgent financial help, which hasn’t yet come, they face the prospect of increasing hunger, malnutrition, destitution and even death.

Already, with cost of living rising incrementally because of high inflation, higher taxation and inflated utility bills to keep the IMF program from collapsing, and people taking to the streets all over the country in frustration, it is extremely important to keep a lid on the discontent of those affected by the floods for no fault of anybody.

That is why it is very unfortunate that despite coming forward when Pakistan was in deep crisis, the international community is not honouring its own pledges that were directed at nothing more than helping the unfortunate lot that found itself in the way of nature’s fury.

If this is any example, then the far more complicated and long-winged task of identifying and dealing with the wider causes and repercussions of climate change will never take off properly.

Let’s not forget that because of sheer geographical accident, Pakistan just happens to find itself in a place that suffers the most in the world because of all the damage done to its climate. And it’s not primarily because of this country’s own economic or industrial policies that it faces this predicament — it is responsible for a very tiny fraction of global carbon emissions — but because of the policies of far more advanced countries that are much better placed when it comes to the aftermath.

So, while the help of some of the more industrialised countries is welcome at such times, it still needs to be realised that this is not just charity, but also in part their responsibility.

Yet it beggars belief that they would go through the trouble to organise and attend donor conferences, then make promises and pledges, and then not honour them in time to make a difference. Millions of lives are at stake, after all, and damage done to homes and livelihoods of so many people cannot be addressed or mitigated without a prompt flow of funds.

Surely, all those governments didn’t make those promises just for the headlines. But since nobody gave much thought to putting a deadline on the pledges at the time, it seems all we can do is make a little noise about it every now and then and just wait for those countries to cut the cheques, so to speak.

Other than the money and last year’s troubles, though, there’s a lot that the country can do on its own to decrease its vulnerability in the future. It’s abundantly clear that Pakistan is going to suffer, perhaps the most in the whole world, as climate change takes a heavy toll.

Therefore, it must immediately order studies to identify areas most sensitive to factors such as flash floods and heat waves. It must also educate its own people about ways of dealing with such catastrophes. And it must improve its economic health because, as it has just seen, relying on other countries and institutions might feel good initially, but it’s never a done deal.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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TidBit Sep 28, 2023 04:48am
I think may be the world's does not believe we will actually use the money for climate change. Look at how much money China gave us for CPEC, now the project is apparently halting expansion per Express Tribuine. I dont think so that the world trusts us anymore on anything.
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