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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Jan 23, 2013

Climate change turns in to national security threat: experts

Wednesday,Islamabad—Experts at a SDPI seminar were unanimous in the opinion that climate change has become a national security threat and urged government
to respond to climate change challenges by devising concrete policy actions.

They
were of the view that climate change is a threat multiplier which increases
existing threats such as water, food and energy insecurities. They said, climate change has unleashed
disasters, obstructed economic development, reduced capacity of governments and
exacerbated internal and external
conflicts.

They were discussing at a special seminar on “Climate Change as National
Security Threat” organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)
here on Monday.

Chairing the session, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman Senate Standing
Committee on Defence and Secretary General, PML-Q said that water has now
emerged as another major source of scuffle
between India and Pakistan beside the Kahsmir Issue. Calling for a regional
approach to deal with the impacts of climate change, he commented that no
country can address ecological
challenges alone.

He said South Asia is the most prone to climate change in the world. South
Asian leadership highlighted this threat in an exceptional way, when Maldives
cabinet held their cabinet meeting under the sea and the Nepal cabinet meeting
held on top of Mount Everest. He said the fate and livelihoods of billions of
South Asians is at stake at the hand of climate change and the governments in
the region have to act now to protect their citizens.

Senator
reaffirmed his resolve to take the issue at highest level and assured that
Senate Standing Committee on Defence would include climate change as a threat
in National Security Strategy.
Referring to water disputes
between the provinces and Kalabagh dam issue, he said that these issues and
especially the water scarcity has threaten the federalism and integrity of the
country.

He
also urged media to play its role in creating broader awareness on the subject.
“Media beside broadcasting political debates and marches, must also focus on
other important issues such as threats of climate change and how we as a nation can cope with it,” he
added.

Earlier,
Shakeel Ahmad Ramay Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Center,
SDPI gave a detailed presentation on ecological challenges and socio-political
impacts of climate change. He cited recent references where various countries
around the world have included climate change as a threat perception to their
national security.

He
said that the biggest manifestation of climate change in Pakistan was 2010
floods which led to billions of dollars in damages. He said that the country
faces agricultural and water challenges and degradation of natural resources as
a result of climate change will lead to decreased in agricultural production.

He
referred to SDPI Food Security report 2009 and said that country’s 48.7 percent
population was food insecure before 2010 floods and now it has gone up to
around 58.7 percent. He deplored that the country’s population has to face all
these challenges in a situation where there are no visible state response to
these challenges.

He
added that military interventions also contribute and exacerbating into climate
change. He cited Siachen glacier which is rapidly melting due to presence of
military by both sides .

Speaking
at the occasion Shafqat Kakakhel said that Climate Change is not a scientific
fiction but a proven global phenomenon. But the question is that what
government of Pakistan is doing to reduce the negative consequences in
Pakistan. It’s not a scientific fiction, impeccable scientific evidence
available as proven by inter-governmental panel on CC. There are certain
particular uncertainties on some minor details but which area of science does not face specific
uncertainty.

He said the major source of water in Indian rivers is monsoon rains but in
Pakistan, more than 60 percent of water comes from glacial melt. He further
added that Pakistani water sources are either located or pass through India and
Pakistan which necessitates a regional approach to water issues.

Talking
of policy challenges, he said that 18th
amendment
was good move but it was carried out in most indecent
haste without prosper consultation with stakeholders. He urged an apex body at
federal level and demanded increased role of parliamentary bodies to deal with
ecological and environmental challenges in the country.