Published Date: Feb 14, 2012
PAK, INDIA COOP CAN TURN CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES
Climate change is a rising threat to all nations of the world including Pakistan and India. But without positive will and change of mindset there is little possibility for a positive progress. Experts, at a seminar on Monday, agreed that strategic interest, military ambition and absence of data are the major causes that threaten this part of the world as a result of global climate change.
The dialogue on the impact of climate change on South Asia, attended by several Pakistani and Indian experts was jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Center for Science and Environment (CSE), India with the support of Heinrich Boll Stiftung (HBS). Speaking at the seminar titled ‘Pakistan-India Track II Dialogue on (Climate) Change for peace’, Dr Ishfaq Ahmad, Advisor Planning Commission of Pakistan on Climate Change and Development said that, since Pakistan and India face almost common issues, “We must at least narrow the gap on water issues, if not on all, and devise appropriate strategies for climate change adaptation.”
Britta Peterson, Country Director of HBS advised the delegates to take the advantage of the platform and use it to carve out a realistic road map for Indo-Pak collaboration on combating climate change. “Information sharing, research, and joint cooperation, is the only way to address global warming in South Asia” proposed Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director of CSE, India. Shorter duration of rainfall and extreme weather events including droughts and floods are increasing in the South Asia region. “Our common concerns can be transformed into a great opportunity to learn from each other by mutual collaboration and data sharing” said Bhushan.
“Glaciers are one significant indicator of climate change” stated Arshad H Abbasi, water and energy expert. Abbasi, who seemed to have contrary opinions on the subject, affirmed that “the primary cause of melting of Siachen glacier is human greed not global warming” which is why the adjoining Baltoro glacier is not experiencing the same effect. Demonstrating photographs of military activities by India and Pakistan such as burning of fuel for sustenance of troops and transportation of war material, he said that “growing giant cracks on Siachen glacier are attributed to the deployment of troops and establishment of permanent cantonments.” He urged Pakistan and India to declare all Himalayan glaciers as ‘Protected Areas,’ to preserve the treasured glaciers. Delegates while discussing the issues during lunch and coffee breaks seemed inclined towards the political will. Whereas Pakistanis eagerly discussed the implications of Kashmir and Siachen issue on joint cooperation, the Indians gladly deliberated on all issues other than the controversial ones.
Climate change threat can be converted in to an opportunity through effective bilateral talks and coordination between the two countries, advocated Sanjay Vashist, Programme Advisor Climate Change of HBS (India).
The purpose of the dialogue is to improve relations between Pakistan and India by developing an agenda for climate change in the areas of water, and energy specifically, informed Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, Research Associate at SDPI. Stressing on the need of collaboration between South Asian countries, specifically Pakistan and India, Shafqat Kakakhel, Senior Advisor SDPI said “Pakistan and India must discuss and explores vistas of cooperation on climate change as both countries have an integrated ecological system with shared natural resources.”