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Although the catastrophic tragedy of flash floods in Pakistan arose due to climate change-induced incidents, most significantly, the early onset of the torrential monsoon rains, however, governance crisis has worsened the situation, even more, owing to its lack of competency of the institutions, absence of policies and political consensus, poor arrangements of resources, and ineffective use of funds and aids, leading to an inundating state along with its drowning image internationally.
2- A brief overview of the recent catastrophic situations in Pakistan
- ✓ Extreme heat-wave in the month of March, Glacial lake outbursts in Gilgit Baltistan and wildfires in the forests of KPK and Balochistan in May, urban flooding in Karachi in July, and the early onset of the torrential monsoon rains.
- ✓ Around 1208 people were killed, a third of which were children, and 6082 people were injured between 14th June and 1st September 2022, NDMA Report.
3- The main reason behind a flooded Pakistan: Bad Governance
- ✓ Lack of competency of the Disaster Management Institutions
- Case study: Prediction of the Pakistan Meteorological Department of an early monsoon bringing above-average rainfall in the country and chances of floods.
- ✓ Absence of Proactive policies and strategic measures
- Case study: Absence of embankments in the water channels to control the effects of floods.
- ✓ Poor arrangements of the resources and rescue programs
- Case study: Incident of the Dubair stream in Lower Kohistan, where four men drowned while waiting for being rescued.
- ✓ Dormant plans for the flood-resilient constructions
- Case study: Construction of Honeymoon Hotel on the bank of the Swat River, which got devoured by the floods within seconds.
4- Administrative measures taken by Government of Pakistan
- ✓Allocation of $170 million by the Government of Pakistan to flood victims on 30th August
- ✓The former PM’s efforts for fundraising through telethon received $22.5 million in pledges for flood relief
5- Critical Analysis
Answer to the Question
The early onset of monsoon and climate change-induced flash floods seen in 2022 has left most parts of Pakistan inundated and devastated. To interpret the situation further, it was not only ‘Climate Change’ that led Pakistan to a state of extreme deluge but ‘Bad Governance’, which has been the main player in the whole scenario. Instead of recovering and reforming the nation from a record-breaking flood tragedy in the history of Pakistan, the forever quiescent form of governance has acted as a catalyst in deteriorating the already lethal impacts of the calamity on society. Moreover, the exacerbated impacts of the flash floods on the destruction of humanitarian, economic, industrial, and agricultural sectors can directly be linked with bad governance, including poor management skills of the state, lack of competency of the Disaster Management Institutions, poor strategies and policies, and, also, improper allocation and distribution of the funds and aids. Hence, it is clear as crystal that if the Government had played their required role effectively and efficiently, the situation would not have been observed at the brink of collapse. Thus, the answer elucidates the drawbacks of governance behind the devastating situation of floods in Pakistan.
A brief overview of the recent catastrophic situations in Pakistan
Pakistan, unfortunately, is at such a geographic location on the Global Map that it always experiences the extreme outcomes of every climatic menace, particularly Climate Change. Before the advent of the flash floods in the month of June 2022, several other calamities have been experienced by Pakistan, such as extreme heat-wave in the month of March, Glacial lake outbursts in Gilgit Baltistan and wildfires in the forests of KPK and Balochistan in May, urban flooding in Karachi in July, and the early onset of the torrential monsoon rains, which collectively triggered the most severe calamity of flash floods in the history of Pakistan till now. Consequently, Pakistan has received the highest amount of rainfall in at least three decades, and as a result, one-third of Pakistan has submerged. According to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), around 1208 people were killed, a third of which were children, and 6082 people were injured between 14th June and 1st September 2022. So, Pakistan has gone through a series of calamities in the year of 2022 and has faced disastrous impacts overall.
A Flooded Pakistan: Drawbacks of the Governance
- ✓Lack of competency in the Disaster Management Institutions
To relate the severe impacts of the flash floods calamity to another relevant factor, the most responsible one is the improper means of governance of Pakistan for sure, which, instead of eliminating the threats and dangers of the menace, sprinkled salt on the pain of the society. First, the incompetent attitude of the institutions, accountable for the management of disasters, has played a vital role in the propagation of the loss and damage done by natural calamity. For instance, the Pakistan Meteorological Department predicted an early monsoon bringing above-average rainfall in the country and warned of flash floods, following the directives issued by the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum. Despite of already being acknowledged, none of the practical measures were taken to control the spreading menace, tackle the losses, arrange rescue teams for the victims, and ensure the rehabilitation of the people sagaciously. Thus, the poor performance of the management institutions has proved to be a sign of shame for the governance.
- ✓Absence of Proactive policies and strategic measures
Second, the absence of effective policies and foresight skills of the leaders have exacerbated the damages of natural disasters on a vast level, as the encroachments and mismanagements have significantly provoked the destruction caused by floods. It is fair enough to say that the country’s elites and civil leaders learned very little from the devastating riverine floods of 2010. Further, the lack of constructive measures of the government to uphold any disasters before its advent is a major issue behind the lagging of the society. As the water channels in Pakistan have been devoid of embankments, which can effectively control the destructing effects of floods, immense catastrophic impacts have been experienced by the local public and deterioration of the country on every sector has been the example of this. Hence, the myopic attitude of the government to disaster callings has worsened the situation in Pakistan.
- ✓Poor arrangements of the resources and rescue programs
Third, as it is a fact that escape from the natural disasters is not humanly possible, but, to deal the situation accordingly is something possible as well as very significant in order to overcome the menace. However, owing to the poor system of governance in Pakistan, the sectors of management and rescue schemes have, subsequently, affected and worsened the situation. The government’s slow and inappropriate response to the flood victims and their rescue has seen to be fatal for the existence of victims, which, in turn, has resulted in the severe loss of human lives, destruction of the infrastructure, and food insecurities. To enlighten the unwilling approach of the government to rescue local public, the incident of the Dubair stream in Lower Kohistan can be considered where five men waited for over three hours to be rescued by the government in the middle of the gushing torrents, yet no one came for their rescue and four of them lost their lives. Also, instead of providing proper facilities and rehabilitation programs to the victims, the government pretended to help the people by dropping few ration bags from the helicopter. Such miserable acts of the state leaders directly point towards the deteriorating system of governance, impacting society in every context.
- ✓Dormant plans for the flood-resilient constructions
Fourth, the extremely disastrous impacts on the infrastructures – ultimately alleviating the economic situation of the country – were seen because of the poor construction projects lacking flood-resilient planning and guidance. Moreover, the repercussions of construction on riverbanks and other prevailing encroachments in the flood-prone zones were most apparent in the destruction caused by floods in the northern sides of Pakistan. For instance, the Honeymoon Hotel in Kalam Valley, which had been constructed on the bank of the Swat River, was washed away within seconds by the floods, consequently, deteriorating the tourism side of that valley. Furthermore, the unwilling attitude and lack of political consensus of the leaders on the construction of dams in Pakistan, which could have efficiently controlled the flood by storing the water for future use, has paved the way for the enhancement of the disaster’s impacts on the country.
Administrative measures taken by the Government of Pakistan
Although Pakistan has gone through a vast tragedy of its whole lifetime and has, subsequently, suffered a lot owing to its poor system of governance, its government has also taken some magnificent administrative steps to overcome the calamity and ensure the survival of the state in every possible means. At first, the Government of Pakistan announced a $170 million allocation to flood victims on 30th August, which was supposed to be distributed through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) as part of the Pakistan Flood Response Plan 2022. Later, the former PM, Imran Khan, held a three hour long telethon to raise the funds for flood affectees and, resultantly, received $22.5 million in pledges for flood relief. Thus, the effective measures taken by the government for raising funds cannot be ignored by any means.
To critically analyze the debate, the devastating flash floods have left one-third of Pakistan – a water-stressed country that is ranked 14th on the list of the world’s 17 countries with “extremely high-water risk” – underwater. And as an additional ingredient in the recipe, poor governance has served as a major character in the destruction of the already deteriorating state of the nation. Whereas, apart from re-establishing the institutional reforms and governance policies for the management of upcoming calamities, the leaders should consider more on demanding climate reparations from the Global North, instead of urging for funds and aid, that are instigating catastrophic climate-induced disasters in the Global South, particularly in Pakistan. As Huma Yusuf, a Pakistani Journalist, also stated, “Pakistan currently lacks a comprehensive reparations policy, as well as a climate diplomacy strategy.”
To cut a long story short, Pakistan has, undoubtedly, suffered the immense impacts of Climate change, in the form of flash floods in 2022, which has been further enhanced by the poor governance system of the nation, as the major reason behind drowning Pakistan was the absence of foresight policies, lack of competent performance of the management institutions, and terrible arrangements for the rescuing scheme. Although poor governance polished the outcomes of flash floods, it is undeniable that Pakistan always remains at the line of threat by Climatic Change due to the West’s inappropriate contributions. Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, also stated during the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, “Let’s be clear, the Pakistani people did not do this to Pakistan – we all did, and the high-emitting nations are most responsible.” Hence, Pakistan has been exposed to both Global threats and its internal governance crisis that collectively pushed it to the brink of collapse in 2022.
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