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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Climate Change: Existential Threat to Pakistan

From the traditional focus on military or state security, the concept of national security has
changed and expanded over time to encompass both human and state security. The state of
Pakistan and the incumbent government are taking cognizance of the multiple traditional and
non-traditional security threats. Indeed, the newly adopted and the first-ever National Security
Policy of Pakistan too reflects this expanded conceptualization of national security and a greater
appreciation on the part of concerned state institutions about the need to take timely action to
avert the adverse consequences of global warming and climate change. This is least surprising
given that some scholars have gone so far as to claim that it’s neither India nor the threat from
religious extremism or terrorism but climate change that poses existential threat to the country.
Needless to say that, the Pakistani civil-military leadership cannot dismiss such alarm bells and
suggestions by scholars as part of anti-Pakistan campaigns without jeopardizing Pakistan’s
human and economic security. Indeed, the fact that Pakistan is ranked the fifth most vulnerable
country to climate change provides no reason for complacency. The sudden heat wave that has
come to engulf the country even before it had witnessed the spring season bodes ill for the
country and can cause havoc in terms of water scarcity, underutilization of cultivatable land thus
causing acute food insecurity. This in turn, will exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and
inequalities in Pakistan leading to societal fragmentation. Therefore, as a responsible state
aspiring to play a leading role in climate diplomacy and global drive on clean and green
environment, Pakistan needs to invest more in mitigation and adaptation strategies. This involves
addressing the social and political repercussions of rapid, large scale ecological change and their
interplay with drivers of insecurity including demographic dynamics, and tools for managing
system risk.
It is reassuring that climate change is being increasingly treated as a human rights issue in more
civilized and democratic contexts. Yet the unprecedented primacy accorded to climate change in
state policies and academic debates needs to be translated into tangible and concrete steps in
terms of augmenting reforestation drive, imposition of carbon taxes, and incentivizing
ecofriendly businesses ventures etc. This will go a long way in establishing partnership based on
shared trust and understanding between the state and citizenry thus providing the necessary
wherewithal to combat the consequences of climate change efficiently. On the other hand, a
myopic understanding of the issue and lack of state capacity explains the general indifference in
countries where human security is not generally a cardinal feature of state narrative. Therefore, it
becomes indispensable that concerted and sustainable efforts are made to sensitize the public and
policy institutions if we are to achieve the objectives of national development and SDGs. To this
end, it is imperative that we develop and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies,
especially in the ecologically vulnerable and politically disputed contexts like Gilgit Baltistan
region in Pakistan. Cognizant of this growing threat, the government is taking measures at
policy, management and operational levels. But more needs to be done to honour our
international commitments and national obligations in letter and spirit.

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Nisar Ahmed Khanhttp://timesglo.com
Nisar Ahmed Khan, The writer is a Senior Editor at Times Glo and holds an MPhil degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad.

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