Defenseless in the face of Non-Traditional Threat; Climate Change.

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By: Zaman Bajwa

The concept of security evolved in the post-cold war era with the dissipation of the Soviet threat as the USSR disintegrated. The debate regarding what security is further categorized under the Manichean discourse as traditional and non-traditional security. Globalization catalyzed the paradigm shift from the Neo-realist concept of security to the security of individuals. Professor Mehboob-ul-Haq, the former finance minister of Pakistan identified the pertinence of non-traditional security as he identified that a state’s progress is dependent upon Human Development Index as compared to GDP.

            The framework presented by Barry Buzan elaborated that the security of humans in totality is influenced along the lines of economy, politics, military, environment and, society. In the contemporary scenario, Pakistan along with other South-Asian states is struggling against a non-traditional security threat that is climate change. Pakistan has become a major subject to cataclysmic floods that have drowned almost a considerable part of three provinces Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and affected the agricultural land of Punjab as a result of global warming along with many other man-made events.

            The statistical data depicts that as a result of this calamity around 33 million people suffered as their homeland drowned in flood water, making the rural areas uninhabitable and these people are forced to immigrate to the federal and surrounding areas. The numbers of causalities reported are around 1500 and millions of houses are destroyed in the wake of this disaster. Other than that, the flood also hit hard the agricultural lands, making them less fertile to cultivate major crops for the coming year. This supplementary created a gap, impacting the food security, exports, and ultimately the economy of the country which was already fragile. Pakistan is facing the dark days of its history in the episode of the greatest flood of the century.

            Where Pakistan’s geographical location has always been the driving force in its relevance in the International arena, it is always a contributing factor in the current situation of Pakistan. The temperature of the Arabian Sea has been elevated from heating twenty-nine degrees Celsius to thirty-one degrees Celsius, giving rise to tidal surges within Indus Basin. The flood catastrophe of 2022 started with increased heat waves reported in April and May of this year. The temperature was recorded around above 40 degree Celsius for a longer period in many cities of Pakistan. These were not normal heat waves and many climate analysts predicted that this year Pakistan due to extreme weather conditions would suffer from above-normal rainfall in the monsoon season but still the Government and management authorities paid no heed to it.  

This year the province of Baluchistan and Sindh received rainfall more than five times as compared to the average rainfall recorded. This depicts that climate change is a real existing threat and there is a discernible role of man in altering seasonal cycle change. This debate is further supported by the empirical evidence of global warming found in satellite measurements of the troposphere. 

This disaster that South Asian states are facing today is a result of risk which was contrived centuries ago. The Industrial revolution demarcated the world into first and third-world countries along the lines of accumulation termed as core and periphery respectively. The core states are responsible for the combustion of CO2 into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas in their industries. On the other hand, not only developing countries or periphery states are dependent on core states for refining their raw materials but also they suffered from the consequences of global warming in form of floods and droughts. Therefore, it is not wrong to say that global warming induced by man-made activities also prompted an intensification of the current situation.

Coming back to Pakistan, the situation has become much worse due to governmental issues such as the inability of the state departments and institutions to formulate an effective plan for the early warnings of the flood. Moreover, the urban flood has caused more devastation because of poor drainage and storage infrastructure, incompetent disaster management teams, as well as political drift, which further agitated the situation.  Moreover, there is poorly planned urban development, especially in the flood zone areas. Due to scarcity of resources, there is less availability of clean water to drink and food to eat for the flood victims. Hence, the country which was still in a phase of recovery from Covid 19 now facing serious health issues due to the flood. The flood-related hazards are also emerging causing serious medical issues like diarrhea, malaria, dengue fever, and infectious skin diseases.

      Pakistan’s policy relative to climate change is focused on two steps. First is to entreat and put in for finances from International Organizations and first-world countries to meet such environmental threats. The second is to engage the private and public sectors to invest by creating economic incentives for better control and management in the wake of such disasters along with making the discourse common among the citizens that what is climate change and how to conserve our eco-system.


Pakistan’s contribution to the emission of CO2 levels or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is negligible as compared to its immediate neighbors China and India which are responsible for around one-third emission of carbon but contrary to this fact, Pakistan is the sole victim here who is affected a lot by the global warming. Pakistan is also part of a COP27, an initiative taken by the United Nation. In an upcoming climate summit in Egypt. Pakistan along with all the countries which are mainly at the risk of suffering more from climate change will raise the debate that the developed countries sole producers of environment unfriendly gases in the atmosphere should hold responsible for their actions and they should compensate for their losses impacting the lives of individuals and crippling their economy. Moreover, action should be taken to minimize carbon emissions by the developed countries. Only in this way, Sustainable Development Goal no. 13 i.e. Climate Action is achievable.  

Write is Islamabad-based Freelance Journalist and Executive Director of YFK an advocacy group working on conflict resolution.

This article was published at The Nation Newspaper on 22 September 2022 .

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