Those among us who think climate change is others’ concern and not ours should think again. It is very much our concern; the terrible havoc caused by the recent spell of driving rains in Chitral being the proof evidence.
Experts say it was a deadly combination of glacial lake outbursts and cloud outbursts, both being consequential to the climate warming. Intense heat and early monsoon trigger rapid snow melt releasing flash flooding.
And as climate warming persists the snowmelt is reaching higher elevations exposing more areas to snowmelt releasing huge quantities of water from the glaciers and frozen lakes.
We may not be guilty of producing excessive amount of CFs but we are furiously engaged in denuding our land of trees which is a major reason for landslides as mountains lose their retaining power.
And then Chitral happens to be located in the seismic zone as the earth under it is very fragile. No doubt then such a calamity is now in the nature of weather conditions in the upper reaches of the Himalayas and the Karakoram.
Last month there were heavy rains in Indian Occupied Kashmir causing flash flooding. Now the same has happened in Chitral. And it is quite likely more of the same is in order for these regions – because Nature is unforgiving.
But we are ill-prepared for such a challenge, not only because we don’t have the will and capacity to fight back, but also because we are quite often on holidays as was the case when rains caused havoc in Chitral.
These caused flash flooding which washed away some 240 big and small bridges, destroyed scores of houses and rendered hundreds of residents especially in the upper tehsils of the district trapped and powerless.
At least three major towns of Latkoh tehsil – Garam Chashma, Arkari and Karimabad – were inaccessible for six days. The water supply systems in most of the towns and cities have collapsed while shortages of edibles have been reported from some places.
Since the civilian leadership both in Centre and the province was on five-day Eid holidays it were the Pak Army soldiers on the site to provide rescue and relief services in the disconnected ravaged areas. Of course throughout weather remained rough but not rough enough to hold back the region’s Corps Commander from reaching Chitral.
Now that civilian leadership is on the ground it is our hope their visits are not mere photo-ops and the commitments they make to the people are fulfilled. And also the relief camps they inaugurate stay in place after they have left and the medicines they supplied do not end up in the market.
It is therefore essential to ensure that restoration and rehabilitation work to be undertaken by the related agencies doesn’t fall in the pattern it did following the 2005 earthquake.