Still drowned in floods, Pakistan has blamed climate change rather than its own preparedness as the reason for the current situation, revealing its old habit of accusing others for its problems

While addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s summit in Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 16, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, “The devastating floods in Pakistan are most definitely climate change induced. It is the result of climate change, cloud outbursts, and unprecedented rains, combined with hill torrents coming down.”

Subsequently, addressing the UN General Assembly he stated, “The undeniable truth is that the calamity (floods) has not been triggered by anything we have done.” Pakistan claims the floods are a fallout of climate change, of which Pakistan’s contribution is claimed to be less than 1%.

Grist, an NGO dedicated to climate solutions in its September 16 article titled, ‘Is climate change to blame for the Pakistan floods,’ said “Research found that the devastation in Pakistan was driven largely by the country’s outdated river management system and how close people lived to floodplains. A high poverty rate, along with political and economic instability, made Pakistan unprepared to deal with the magnitude of this year’s monsoon rains.”

It also quoted a researcher, Ayesha Siddiqi from the University of Cambridge, “It is important to remember that this disaster was the result of a vulnerability that was constructed over many, many years and shouldn’t be seen historically as the outcome of one sporadic sudden event.”

A Sindh activist, Noorulhadi Shah, stated, “Sindh was deliberately flooded, now the water has been withheld until external aid is fully received. What will be done after receiving aid in its place? From the Sindh government to the establishment, there is no plan for dying humanity.”

Pakistan continues to display its helplessness to aid flood victims and has been exploiting the calamity for funds. It requested the UN to launch a global aid effort, while rejecting aid from Bangladesh, on the pretext that accepting assistance from Dhaka may undermine their global image. Simultaneously, if rejected demands for transhipment of aid through India. Pakistan clerics destroyed vegetables sent by Iran denouncing it as Shia aid. If their desperation was genuine, they would never have acted in this irresponsible manner.

In August-September 2014, when Pakistan’s Punjab faced severe floods, Pakistanis blamed India for releasing additional water from its dams. Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the terrorist group, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), termed it as a war launched by India.

The reason for blaming India was mainly to divert attention from Pakistan’s own fault in managing its water resources. Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, on the contrary, claimed the floods were due to heavy rainfall, not Indian actions.

The Third Pole, an organization dedicated to providing information about the Himalayan watershed and its rivers, in an article of September10, 2014, titled, ‘When will Pakistan stop blaming India for its water crisis,’ stated, “Experts blame the government’s weak water management policies and poor flood control systems. They also point to the country’s lack of water storage facilities, which means floodwaters are wasted every year.”

It also quoted Dr Parvez Amir, a former member of the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change, “The danger of climatic change is imminent. It cannot be evaded by burying our heads in the sand and placing all blame on India.” Pakistan, as usual, did not act.

The Dawn in an article of September 19, 2014 titled “Our side of the flood story,” quoted Chaudhry Mazhar Ali, a retired Punjab irrigation official and researcher, “Instead of blaming India, we must accept that we were not prepared for floods. Can anyone tell me what we have done to reduce the intensity of flooding after the 2010 deluge? Absolutely nothing.” Nothing remains the buzzword even in 2022. Blaming others for its own follies comes naturally to Pakistan. A case in point is the current floods.

Another permanent Pakistan lie is its losses due to its involvement in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which included the US deployment in Afghanistan. Pakistan announced it suffered over 70,000 dead and USD 150 billion economic damage on account of its participation in the GWOT. How Pakistan arrived at these figures remains a mystery as it never deployed a single soldier nor participated in any operation other than housing the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership on its soil as state guests.

Its casualties were mainly due to attacks by the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) which rose from the ashes of the flawed attack ordered by Musharaff on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in Jul 2007. The TTP is an amalgamation of small terrorist groups, then being trained by the Pakistan army to operate in Afghanistan. They turned their guns on Pakistan because their members were mercilessly killed in the Lal Masjid attack. Till 2007 Pakistan was largely terrorism free while accepting US financial support for providing them land and air access.

In 2013, while Pakistan’s interior ministry stated that their losses due to terrorism from 2002- 2012 were under 13,000, the Pakistan media claimed 40,000 and politicians on the global stage mentioned many more. All this without participating in a single operation. Pak only employed its security forces to arrest and hand over global terrorists on intelligence from the US thereby claiming bounty on them. Osama Bin Laden was eliminated on Pak soil and the Taliban leadership was housed in Quetta, where their families still reside.

Pakistan DGISPR, Major General Babar Iftikhar, mentioned in a press briefing in January 2021 that the Pakistan army has eliminated 18,000 terrorists in the past two decades. He added that simultaneously there has been an 86% decline in terrorist strikes since 2013 and 97% decline in suicide attacks since 2009. Iftikhar added that Pakistan lost 83,000 lives in the GWOT. His own statistics display that these casualty figures are fudged.

Even financial losses, announced by Pakistan leaders are phony as neither any logic nor breakdown ever been given to justify them. On the contrary, Pakistan received billions of dollars from the US as military aid and bounty collection, most of which went into the pockets of the military and political leadership. The Pakistan Tribune, in an article of September 6, 2017 stated that till then Islamabad had received USD 33.4 billion from the US. Donald Trump mentioned in a press conference when stopping aid to Pakistan, “They were getting $1.3 billion a year.” Pakistan, so used to pocketing free global funds termed his decision as “ungrateful.”

At every stage in its history, Pakistan has been exaggerating its losses with the intention of seeking global aid while refusing to acknowledge its own inactions. Its population suffers because its leadership fails them. It is time for the global community to call Pakistan’s bluff and push it to reveal its faults rather than exploit the suffering of its populace. Funds being allocated must be employed to establish anti-flood measures under strict global monitoring rather than landing into pockets of the military and political leadership. The local populace will anyway only receive a trickle.

*** The writer is a security and strategic affairs commentator; views expressed are his own