Hafiz Bilal Waseem Satti is a resident of Islamabad. He is currently pursuing his bachelor's in international relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Mr. Satti has completed half of his degree i.e 4 semesters.
Balochistan Flooding & Climate Change
The recent monsoon season in Balochistan is quite damaging as the relentless rains are acting as a threat multiplier for the national security and deteriorating the economy of Pakistan. The intense flooding in Balochistan is alarming as it has destroyed the infrastructure and has claimed dozens of lives. The destruction of the infrastructure has raised the alarms as it is damaging the economy at a higher rate.
The rising threat of climate change in Pakistan has raised questions about the credibility of the government regarding crisis management in Balochistan, which is also a national security threat to the country. Balochistan is already mired in political and security turmoil with the ongoing insurgency and instability on the rise. In this scenario, the massive floods are a threat multiplier that can catalyze the already potential national security threats of poverty, resource scarcity, and inter-provincial rivalry.
In the past, Balochistan has experienced massive floods, but the current situation is making climate change a preliminary threat to national security. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, a surge of about 501% has been recorded in the current monsoon rainfall patterns. The changes in the monsoon patterns have resulted in severe rain in Balochistan.
As aforementioned, the increase in rainfall compared to the past years has resulted in the loss of lives and property. The Pakistan Meteorological Department has raised the apprehension that there will be more rainfall in the coming days and authorities need to be prepared for crisis management. This is evident from the prime minister’s orders to the federal and provincial institutions to take precautionary measures to curb the adverse effects of monsoon rainfall. Nonetheless, this situation is challenging as the rebuilding of the damaged infrastructure would be a hectic task for the state apparatus.
Impact of the Flooding in Balochistan on the Economy
Floods have always been a cause of imbalance and distress for Pakistan’s struggling economy. The flood of 1988 resulted in major economic and infrastructural losses. According to the 2020 Annual Report by the Federal Flood Commission (FFC), Pakistan had a loss of $858 million and 508 lives in the 1988 floods. Similarly, the floods of 2013 also had an adverse impact on Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure.
According to the annual report by the FFC, in 2013, Pakistan faced a huge economic blow and lost more than $2000 million. Apart from the economic loss, there was also a loss of 333 human lives. Floods are one of the major causes of economic instability in Pakistan because they have always damaged Pakistan in many ways and the government always compensates for the loss by giving relief funds to affected people. This causes a great setback to the economy of Pakistan.
The total reconstruction cost of the 1988 flood was about Rs.1,874 million according to the FFC. Balochistan has been allocated a budget of about Rs.612 billion for FY 2022-23 but unfortunately, the flooding has disturbed the economy again. The prime minister of Pakistan has also announced an amount of Rs.1 million each for those who have lost a family member in the floods.
Circumstances in Balochistan
The current situation in Balochistan is certainly a major threat to the national security of Pakistan. As the changing climate itself is a non-traditional security challenge, the ongoing rains have made it quite a problematic situation for the authorities and the public alike. Despite the floods, the approach of the government towards Balochistan is different from other provinces and this is not the first time.
The major problem is the flawed political and economic development policies and strategies. Due to this reason, many rebellious groups arose in Balochistan with the aim of getting basic rights for the Baloch community. Balochistan is in a state of repression and revolt due to the economic and political imbalances which are resulting in the compromise on national security.
The civil-military elite in Islamabad completely denies that there are political and economic disputes in the province. Even though there have been thousands of deaths there, as well as property loss, no government has ever investigated the matter seriously. The contemporary rainfall and economic losses are resultantly fueling the grievances held by the Baloch community as there are no proper steps taken by the government. Thus, the national disasters are resultantly becoming the preliminary challenge for the national security of Balochistan.
The developmental landscape of Balochistan is worsening day by day, leading to more despair and distress. As a province that is experiencing numerous crises with no way out, Balochistan is slowly disintegrating, but neither the media nor the decision-makers are focusing on this problem. To oversee Pakistan’s impending energy, revenue, industrialization, and internal security issues, the federal government currently does not have a program for the strategically crucial and economically promising province.
Balochistan is a strategic land having sea mass and economic potential and it deserves area-size attention rather than a population-based focus. The federal capital has a significant potential to transform the lawless province of Balochistan into a model region. This can be done through governance, and scientific and technological advancements given the province’s crumbling socio-political and economic system.
The people of Balochistan should be given welfare schemes and social safety projects to improve public life. The government should learn lessons from the past that whenever the Baloch community is being overlooked, there has always been a formation of rebel groups notably the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), and many others.
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