Category Archives: Environment

Pakistan needs immediate assistance

PTH is starting a series of posts devoted to the Pakistan’s current crisis effects of which will be long term in nature. While millions of Pakistanis are in dire need of emergency help, our country’s political and economic instability will have ramifications for the region and the world. This is why it is extremely important to understand how several parts of Pakistan have lost decades of development and a state with weak capacities needs billions of dollars in the short term to start a major programme of rehabilitation. If Pakistani state is unable to intervene, the Taliban and other Al-Qaeda militants (and their allies in South Punjab) will find a golden opportunity to annihilate the Pakistani state, discredit constitutional governance and capture political space. Pakistanis cannot be silent victims and therefore we will speak. Pakistan has to be rescued and the international community cannot absolve itself of the responsibility towards its frontline state. Raza Rumi

AA Khalid, a regular at PTH, has written the first article for this series.

Pakistan Floods – Issues and Lessons

The weakness of the State in Pakistani politics has always been a concern but with the advent of the tragic floods it has been exemplified and magnified. In a recent Guardian article it has been observed that:

‘’Ever since Pakistan was created, the army has been the only institution capable of responding to natural disasters. One of the reasons that the military has been so politically dominant is that successive civilian governments have relied on the generals to help them deal with national crises.’’

This is not a problem contingent on which political party is in office, but rather is a comment on the inability of the State to take control and have a discernable sphere of influence and power.

Elsewhere it has been noted that the problem of the international response has been marred by perceptions of Pakistan that have been focused and limited to violence. In another Guardian article:

‘’ Compare and contrast: within days of the 2004 tsunami, £100m had poured into Oxfam, the Red Cross and other charities, and by February 2005 when the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) closed its appeal, the total stood at £300m. The Haiti earthquake appeal closed with donations of £101m. The DEC total for the Pakistan floods appeal has just reached £10m. .’’ Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Economy, Environment, Pakistan, south asia, Taliban, Terrorism

Our reaction to the floods

Raza Rumi

Thousands are dead and injured and millions are displaced due to the floods. The national reaction to this calamitous situation has been that the president should have cancelled his visit to the UK. The president too has not been sagacious. But the debate is frivolous and sidetracks the real issue: our sheer lack of preparedness for natural disasters and emergency management.

Five years ago, a massive-earthquake rocked Pakistan. Later, several institutions such as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) were set up to deal with natural calamities. While it would be unfair to critique the good work done by the NDMA, it is clear that centralised authorities and relief machinery are of little use in a populous, diverse country like Pakistan.

In the last five years, as the recent floods indicate, the state has done little to galvanise and decentralise disaster preparedness and management. Between 2005 and 2010, the magnitude of natural disasters was not large enough to expose the inherent weaknesses of the emergency infrastructure. As before, Pakistanis have come forward and an unprecedented civic activism and volunteerism can be seen in reaching out to victims of the floods across the country. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Environment, North-West Frontier Province, Northern Areas, Pakistan, Zardari

Acting upon the Freedom of Information Act

By Naeem Sadiq

In September 2009 I wrote to two  Sindh  government departments seeking harmless information on matters of education and pollution that should anyway be available to all citizens. I was confident that a formal request under the much trumpeted and much ‘seminar’ed  Freedom of Information Act will do the trick.  The law requires a response within 21 days.   When nothing happened for 4 months, in Jan 2010,  I approached the Sindh Ombudsman (as suggested in the law) to ask the concerned departments to do the needful.

After digesting my request for 3 months, the Sindh Ombudsman finally asked the concerned departments (Education and Environmental Protection Agency) to appear and explain why they did not provide the information that had been asked for.  I too was asked to appear.

So I spent the 1st of April (like a fool)  in the Ombudsman’s office, hoping that the real culprits would make an appearance.  Nobody turned up and the helpless  Ombudsman gave a new date of April 6, for all parties to appear again.

On 6th April I wasted  another day waiting in the Ombudsman’s office, but again neither department put in an appearance.

Clearly I was now being given a taste of my own medicine.  The Ombudsman could keep calling.  I could keep appearing.  The departments violating the freedom of information Act could keep not turning up.  Life could keep going on as normal. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, civil service, Conservation, Democracy, Education, Environment, executive, Law, Pakistan, Rights, Sindh

Copenhagen Summit: Glacial Data Crucial to Combating Climate Change

By Darryl D’Monte*

COPENHAGEN, Dec 18 (IPS/TerraViva) – People living in the Himalayan region are increasingly confronted by rising temperatures and glaciers melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening their very survival. This much the world already knows.

Yet, experts say, there is still no accurate and reliable data on the Himalayan glaciers and many aspects of its ecosystem, which should facilitate determining mitigation measures addressing current and future impacts of climate change on the Himalayas. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Climate Change, Environment, Pakistan, south asia

Copenhagen Summit: US, Canada, EU And China Gamble With Our Collective Future

Shame on all of them-YLH

Alertnet reports:

CLIMATE CHANGE: “Canada Is the Dinosaur”

Source: Inter Press Service
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author’s alone.

 Stephen Leahy* – IPS/TerraViva 

COPENHAGEN, Dec 17 (IPS) – Canada bears a large share of responsibility for any failure to make a breakthrough in reducing greenhouse gas emissions here in Copenhagen, say participants and civil society activists. Canada is the only country to ignore its international obligations under the previous Kyoto climate treaty. It has blocked all attempts to get a new treaty to significantly cut carbon emissions, the activists and delegates from other countries charge.  Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Climate Change, Environment

He hears and heeds the trees

By Ardeshir Cowasjee                Dawn, 06 Dec, 2009

The planet we live on is insignificant in the universal scheme, and parts of it will always be ruled over largely by the ignorant and those who are significant only because of their capability to do immense damage. They heed neither the elements nor the environment.

There is of course the rare bird. Queen Anne of England once asked an honest courtier what the cost would be were she to include London’s Green Park within the precincts of her palace. She was told: ‘A monarchy, Madam, a monarchy.’ We in Pakistan are now fortunate to have a chief justice of our country who can hear and heed trees and who understands the environment. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, Citizens, Conservation, Environment, Justice, Lahore, Law, Pakistan

Bare necessities

By Aroosa Masroor      Dawn, 04 Dec, 2009 

DADU: Mehak Essa is content that she can now concentrate on her studies. Until two months ago, she spent most of her time calculating the minutes that would be wasted in walking all the way to her relative’s house each time she wanted to use a toilet. But now that her school has a separate toilet for girls, she says her mind is ‘at peace.’ Continue reading

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Filed under Children, Education, Environment, Pakistan, poverty, Sindh, Women