By: Ahmed Wali Khan
Gilgit-Baltistan is not only one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in Pakistan, but also in the world. However, in the context of current debate about climate change its impact on Pakistan this region is unfortunately completely ignored. As a result the calamities to be brought about by the climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan have not been taken into consideration by the echelon of power who formulate strategies and policies regarding disaster mitigation. To make things worse the provincial government is not able to highlight issues and take measure to tackle issues related to climate change in the region.
Given the gravity of situation produced by climate change there is a dire need to come up with provincial policy for climate change in the region. The National Climate Change parent document provides broader framework concerning how to adapt to the changing impacts of climate and how to play a role in its mitigation in the region is already available. According to Pakistan Meteorological Department 36 out of 3044 glacier lakes in Karakorum, the Himalayas and Hindukush ranges in Northern part of Pakistan are in danger of bursting. Despite the danger posed by Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) remains completely oblivious of its repercussions on the region in particular and Pakistan in general. It is observed that not a single legislation specifically related to climate change has been enacted by GBLA since its formation. In addition, there is no allocation of budget specified in the annual budget of the province to mitigate dangers emanating from climate change in Gilgit-Baltistan.
At the same time currently there is no major programme or intervention in the region related to Climate Change from the provincial government or from any international donor agency, which is very unfortunate for the region and local communities who livelihood, culture, social structure is directly depended on topography of the region. Therefore, it is imperative for the provincial government to established Climate Change Committee in the GBLA. That committee should seriously take measures to oversee activities related to formulation of Gilgit-Baltistan Climate Change Policy and allocate funds in the annual budget of GB province to deal with climate change. Only by investing and taking measures in the present we can avoid calamities triggered by climate change.
The contributor is a development consultant based in Gilgit.