WASHINGTON: The floods in Pakistan are a forewarning to other nations that climate change can wreak unimaginable havoc if corrective steps are not taken immediately, Pakistan’s US Ambassador Masood Khan said in an interaction with the media at Washington’s National Press Club on Sunday.
“This phenomenon is going to grow whether it is Pakistan or any other country in South Asia or the world,” he said. “Today, it is Pakistan, tomorrow it will be another country.”
The New York Times reported on Sunday that the “scale of the devastation in Pakistan stands out even in a year punctuated by extreme weather”.
Officials and relief workers in Pakistan “have warned that the damage and economic losses will be felt throughout the country for months and years to come”, the report added.
“Even after the floods subside, rural communities face a possible second wave of deaths from food shortage and diseases transmitted by contaminated water and animals.”
Ambassador Masood Khan noted that reports in the international media were “showing heart-wrenching visuals” of affected areas, but “it’s only a fraction of the calamity that we are facing in Pakistan”.
Emphasising the need for a collective response to the devastations caused by climate change, the envoy said: “We should make a quick transition from mitigation and adaptation to preparedness and resilience.”
The ambassador warned against a post-flood food crisis because the floods had destroyed over 5.5 million acres of farmland.
“The World Food Programme and other international organisations must come forward and give necessary support to the people of Pakistan so that we can maintain our food security,” he said.
The Pakistani envoy proposed a robust climate financing mechanism to support those nations that have been adversely affected by climate change.
Experts blame climate change for this year’s unprecedented floods in Pakistan, which cover an area the size of the United Kingdom. Experts point out that Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4 percent of the world’s emissions blamed for climate change, but is among the worst affected by it.
Islamabad has assured the international community that floods have caused no damage to Pakistan’s nuclear assets as they are well-protected and secure.
During the briefing a journalist asked the ambassador “what impact have the floods in Pakistan had on the country’s nuclear sites and what specifically is the government doing to protect these sensitive areas from serious water damage”.
“According to the feedback that I have, our nuclear assets and our nuclear systems are secure and there’s no vulnerability whatsoever,” Ambassador Khan replied.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022