From Economic Crisis to Climate Crisis
Press Release | August 30, 2022
Pakistan has been among the top 10 countries most affected by climate crisis for the past several years. This climate crisis is not natural but the result of the fossil-fuel based capitalist production system, a system driven by imperialist imposition of domination. In the past few years, the devastation and suffering of the people due to climate crisis have been increasing intensely: these include floods, droughts and other intense weather patterns occurring almost every year from 2007 to 2022. The devastation of the recent heavy rains in Pakistan is considered to be more destructive than the 2010 floods, in which more than 20 million people were affected and more than 2,000 people had died; it needs to be pointed out that the floods have as yet to pass through most of the country.
According to NDMA, the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan, the number of people affected by the recent heavy rains and floods is increasing day by day across the country. Millions across the country including Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been displaced, with their homes, livestock and crops washed away, and thousands having lost their businesses. There is acute shortage of food leaving thousands to face hunger. The province of Sindh has been particularly affected with nearly all standing crops destroyed including rice, corn, cotton, sugarcane and vegetables. According to the report of PDMA, Sindh many the districts of Sindh province including Dadu, Khairpur, Shaheed Benazir Abad (Nawab Shah), Larkana, Nowshehro Feroze, Shikarpur, Sanghar, Kashmore, Ghotki and Mirpur Khas and others have been severely affected by the recent incessant rains and life has been paralyzed. There have been 402 casualties, 1,055 people suffering from injuries and a loss of more than15,000 livestock. Just in the Sindh province, 3,269,608 acres of agricultural land has damaged and crops were destroyed.
The above figures are issued by the Departments of Government of Sindh and are based on the reports so far, while there is a risk and fear that these figures may increase with time and may not reveal the actual figures right now. The actual assessment and estimate of the damage caused by these rains can be carried out only after the disaster has passed.
Disease is breaking out in humans as well as animals. Thousands of people are stranded in the open, on highways or on roadsides waiting for relief. According to the members Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), coming from various districts government aid in affected areas is negligible, with the government’s incompetence and unresponsiveness clearly to be seen.
No doubt that the severe devastation through climate change is not only in Pakistan but suffered by many countries, especially countries in the global south. The responsibility of this crisis rests entirely on the capitalist countries of the first world and their corporations as their carbon emissions have not only been historically very high and remain unchecked till now; it should be noted that Pakistan’s share in carbon emissions is less than one percent, The industrial countries refuse to take responsibility for the severe destruction and suffering through climate crisis in our countries and refuse to include payment of loss and damage to climate negotiations. The meagre aid provided does not allow rebuilding of people’s lives and livelihood. The working class of Pakistan, especially the small and landless farmers, are paying a very heavy cost for the carbon emissions of fossil-fuel dependent capitalist production of rich industrial nations.
Pakistan is suffering not only from an environmental crisis but also a severe economic crisis, pursuing false promises of industrial development, increased trade and prosperity; what has prospered is the debt burden of the country with heavy interest payments being made to the IMF and other commercial lenders. It is well understood that there can be no chance of overcoming the debt trap, the escalating prices of basic necessities including basic food items under the present imperialist system leaving peasants and the working class to face hunger, poverty, death and destruction.
The country was already reeling under the stress of an acute economic crisis and has had to now deal with severe destruction caused by climate change. In order to be able to face the current economic and climatic calamity, there is an urgent need for the people to unite and struggle against these profit-making capitalist and feudal institutions and class.
Immediate demands of Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek are:
- Speedy provision of food, adequate shelter and medical aid facilities should be arranged immediately for the affected people;
- Accurate assessment of damages caused by rains and floods and proper awareness should be given to the public.
- Houses and shops etc. should be constructed free of cost. Also, immediate relief should be increased from PKR 25,000 to PKR 100,000, while carrying out proper assessment of losses suffered and compensated accordingly.
- All loans taken by small farmers should be waived and/or paid by the government. Also, interest-free loans and other facilities should be provided for the future.
- Proper arrangements should be made for addressing climate emergencies in the coming years by identifying the real drivers of climate crisis, creating public awareness and finding viable solutions.
- Capitalist countries should fulfill their historical responsibility and provide immediate financial assistance to developing countries like Pakistan to restore the damage and destruction caused by the environmental crisis.
Release by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)