KARACHI: Calling climate change “a crisis created by rich countries,” Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has sought immediate measures amid fast-changing weather cycles, which he said, had “forced poor nations to suffer catastrophic and unimagined losses.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the foreign minister rang alarm bells over rainfall in April at a time when hundreds of thousands were still reeling from the damage caused by last year’s flood.

“The rains have started pouring in Pakistan already in April due to changes in the weather cycle induced by the climate crisis created by rich countries,” he said.

“As a result, poor nations are forced to suffer catastrophic and unimagined losses,” said Mr Bhutt-Zardari, who led Pakistan’s campaign to raise funds following last year’s floods

He referred to the situation in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtun­khwa where rains have created a flood-like situation in rivers and canals of different areas.

Says recent rains piled on miseries of flood-hit people; Sherry calls for action, not just talk

“A large number of victims of the record rainfall during the last monsoon are still waiting for help while the rehabilitation of millions of houses washed away is yet to be carried out,” he added.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari also directed the NDMA and PDMAs to stay alert in view of untimely downpours.

‘Move beyond talk, take action’

The foreign minister’s concerns were shared by Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman who also sounded pessimistic over the world’s response to the challenge.

“As we approach the Global Stocktake at COP28, I see global records being broken by climate change, while actions taken to match pledges fall short,” she said in a statement. “We’re in a race against time, and gatherings like these are crucial in dispelling the growing climate cynicism that has taken hold across the world, particularly among the youth.”

The minister added that it was imperative to “move beyond talk” and take action.

Ms Rehman is currently representing Pakistan at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin, a high-level political discussion on climate cooperation and Global Stocktake ahead of the COP28 in UAE.

The global stocktake of the Paris Agreement is a process to take stock of the agreement’s implementation and assess progress towards achieving the agreement’s goals.

“For our part, Pakistan is aligned with the commitments of the Paris Agreement, and we look forward to a real change in the glacial pace of climate finance, adaptation and mitigation in our collective efforts, as developing countries such as Pakistan are actually facing climate catastrophe but face significant obstacles in securing the necessary funding to meet their climate goals,” Ms Rehman said.

The ministers’ comments came at a time when torrential rainfall has disrupted life and resulted in casualties in many areas, especially in Balochistan and KP.

The fresh rains arrived less than a year after the country witnessed record-breaking monsoons which triggered one of the worst floods in history.

On Monday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered federal and provincial departments to use all resources to help the citizens in the wake of the worsening situation.

Among the worst hit areas were 14 Balochistan districts where continued downpours caused urban flooding and suspension of traffic.

So far, at least 10 people have died in the province in rain-related mishaps. According to officials, flash floods were reported in seasonal streams and rivers in different Balochistan districts, including Chaman, Musakhail, Qila Abdullah, Qila Saifullah, Pishin, Muslim Bagh, Harnai, Kech and other areas.

In KP, bouts of rainfall and snow disrupted life and caused flooding in Peshawar; some parts of Hazara division including Musa-da-Mussala, Koh-i-Makra and Malka-i-Barbat; and Lower Dir. Meanwhile, the Met Office has predicted more rains and thunderstorms in different districts of Balochistan over the course of the next two days.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2023

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