Pakistan and the Environment: What is the current priority?

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Pakistan is among those states that are extremely threatened by environmental issues. The lack of resources, water disputes, displacement, and internal migrations, as well as food and health shortages, all threaten the country’s human security. Pakistan has signed various environmental accords to put national environmental policies into action and safeguard all aspects of the environment, including biodiversity, energy conservation, and water and air quality standards. Furthermore, the government has been attempting to raise public awareness of the growing environmental concerns through electronic and print media. Despite these measures, the environmental policies have not been implemented effectively enough to address the environmental challenges posed to the country.

Nevertheless, Pakistan’s “Clean and Green Initiative” was praised by the world community on  “World Environment Day 2021” and COP 26 Summit.  According to Dr. Shafqat Munir, Director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI), “Pakistan aims to make global efforts this year to tackle climate change, eliminate pollution, counteract biodiversity loss, and limit environmental pollution in particular.”  The occasion also marked the start of the “United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021– 2030,” which would emphasize the global environmental challenges.

At the same time, it is comprehensible that Pakistan is now dealing with environmental challenges such as water contamination and water scarcity in rural areas. Human and industrial activities, particularly the dumping of household and industrial wastes, have polluted drinking water sources with harmful compounds. According to a drinking water quality report, Pakistan has inadequate drinking water quality standards, with roughly 80% of the population without access to clean water while only 20% of the population can afford clean water.

Another challenge for Pakistan is the rapid growth in air pollution, which is worsening with time as a result of emissions from industry, thermal power plants, and automobiles. Climate change is also a major concern for Pakistan at the moment since the country is particularly sensitive to the changes taking place. Due to the meteorological conditions and rising temperatures in those locations, the regions of Baluchistan, Sindh, and Punjab are especially sensitive to climate change. Appraisal of public health status in connection to environmental concerns, it can be comprehended that people are likely unable to carry out their responsibilities successfully if the narrative focuses on a lack of good healthcare as a result of worsening problems.

Moreover, government policy measures remain ineffective in this domain due to divergent preferences. For instance, the government is concentrating on other issues, such as combatting COVID-19  pandemic, addressing economic constraints and governance non-consolidation. According to Dawar Butt, a climate policy specialist, even though the vaccination programme is increasingly vital in this time, the governmental institutions are breaking environmental rules. The resources required to react to environmental concerns are limited, and national security objectives strive to prioritize the distribution of these resources to maintain national security. However, one positive trend is that citizens are progressively becoming more aware of the dangers of environmental deterioration.

To protect the natural environment, Pakistan needs public awareness initiatives for ensuring environmental protection. The government must keep a watch on industrial applications and encourage businesses to install technology that filters out harmful chemicals and gases that are produced into the air and water. Policymakers should distribute environmental information to the public by developing adequate environmental pollution monitoring systems. All of these issues require a quick response to safeguard the environment at this time.

As a result, the essential conclusion is that the government is functioning well to some level, but it urgently needs to emphasize environmental concerns to achieve greater results for the present and coming generations.

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