News / Views

Press Release | Global Warming: AJ&K at High Risk of Suffering, speakers urge

20th May 2022 | Islamabad
Pakistan is one of the eight countries in the world that will be affected the most by natural disasters due to climate change. In the next few years, there will be a severe water crisis which will cause the four provinces of Pakistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan to suffer equally severe economic and social crises. These views were expressed by the speakers at a round table conference on the impact of climate change on Azad Kashmir organized by the Center for Peace Development and Reforms (CPDR).

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Head of IUCN Pakistan, said that in the next two decades, Pakistan will face a variety of problems and challenges due to climate change. Pakistan has been facing natural disasters for many years due to climate change. The floods alone destroyed the homes of millions of citizens. He stressed that the Government and the people would have to take war-based measures to tackle the problem. Founder President of the Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Zulfiqar Abbasi said that the monsoon rains have stopped due to climate change. Glaciers melting due to global warming are causing severe floods in Pakistan. He suggested that we should change the design of buildings and move towards taller buildings. The maximum land area should be kept green to avoid climate change. He said that apart from creating awareness on climate change in Azad Kashmir, major decisions need to be taken at the policy level to counter the threats. Zulfiqar Abbasi said that legislation should be enacted to prevent such incidents as illegal logging and arson.

Saeed Qureshi, Director, State Disaster Management Authority, said that Azad Kashmir, like all four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan, is being affected by climate change. The SDMA is active in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). He pointed out various areas within Azad Kashmir which may get more affected by climate change. Saeed Qureshi said that the glaciers of Neelam Valley are melting which causes sudden floods in rivers. He said that civil society should play an active role in resolving these issues in collaboration with government agencies. In particular, large-scale afforestation and protection of existing forests must be done.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Dr. Shaheen Akhtar said that Pakistan and Azad Kashmir are located in a natural zone where flash floods and glacier melting lakes and subsequent eruption of these lakes have become a dangerous and bitter reality. Former Minister for Social Welfare Ms. Farzana Yaqoob said that flash floods in Azad Kashmir and sudden floods in Gilgit-Baltistan due to the melting of glaciers have washed away the settlements, buildings, roads, infrastructure and standing crops. She said the community and the Government must work together to deal with such natural disasters. The Government alone cannot deal with these threats. Brigadier (Retd.) Pervez Khan, Ershad Mahmud, Dr. Waqas Ali, Ms. Ayesha Jahangir, Irtaza Muhammad, Ms. Fatima Anwar, Ms. Nazish Danish, Ms. Mahwish Bakht, Ms. Hunain Mahmood and Hammad Gelani also addressed the gathering.

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