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Pakistan soldiers evacuate villagers from flooded area, in Rajanpur, a district in the central Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s federal cabinet has approved the formation of a special committee on climate change as heavy monsoon rains and floods have killed 635 people and injured 1,016 in the country.

The inter-ministerial committee would be chaired by the minister for climate change and give recommendations on short, medium, and long-term tasks to mitigate the effects of climate change. Pakistan is the eighth most vulnerable country to climate change.

Climate catastrophe

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said the climate catastrophe in Pakistan is “a national security crisis.” Pakistan is in the “middle of the food, climate, water, population and environmental crisis” she said, calling for synchronised adaptation actions in all these sectors by all relevant ministries and stakeholders.

The newly-formed committee on climate adaptation would devise a simultaneous action plan for agriculture, food and water security. At the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said climate change, water and food security were three interrelated challenges and needed urgent measures to tackle current challenges and protect future generations.

Emphasizing Pakistan’s climate calamity, Sherry Rehman pointed out “We will be water scarce by 2025. The country has faced 152 extreme events in the last two decades with constant shifts in rainfall patterns, intensity and frequency. We are also home to the hottest cities in the world for three years straight with temperatures rising up to 53.7C which is an unlivable situation.”

The climate catastrophe is directly impacting food security. “We have lost 1.8 million acres of fertile land to sea intrusion due to rising sea levels and lose 27,000 acres of forest annually. This is unprecedented and we cannot afford to have our priorities only set on mitigation” she said.

Devastating floods

Pakistan has faced the worst floods after unprecedented monsoon rains this year that killed at least 635 killed and injured more than a thousand people since June 14, according to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Among the dead were at least 233 children. Balochistan and Sindh provinces were hardest hit by the flooding.

At least 201 people of Balochistan have lost their lives in rains and floods. This week, Balochistan’s capital city Quetta remained cut off from the rest of the country as the city’s main railway track and the highway were submerged and damaged due to rains. The floods also swept away dozens of homes, bridges and roads. Pakistan’s Met Office cautioned last week that torrential rains were going to lash the country’s southern region until August 18.