Climate change is a reality. It is a terrible problem which poses great risk to the existence of humanity itself. It has political, economic and social repercussions, and no country is immune to it. Climate change is triggering conflicts over dwindling resources across the world including South Asia. Along with the triggering risks of war by the skirmishes on the Line of Control, a new form of conflict is posing threat to the most vulnerable region of the world. Kashmir is a major national security issue for Pakistan. It has a geostrategic location which can be a source of water for both Pakistan and India. The growth of population and the increased need for water and electricity due to global warming has made India focus on the development of hydro projects in the region. Pakistan has its all major rivers coming from the Kashmir so this issue has always been of intrinsic importance for Pakistan. Furthermore, dwindling resources and the growing need for food, with a war mongering neighbour can threaten the situation if exploited. A rising sea level and reduced agricultural production in agriculture pose a threat to the growing economies of South Asia. Siachen Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the world which is a battleground between nuclear rivals in South Asia. Global warming is expected to accelerate the rate at which the Himalayan glaciers melt. Pakistan fears that India may use water as a weapon against Pakistan in the future by diverting or stopping its water for irrigation and most importantly to create instability in Pakistan. Disturbed climate change patterns and water scarcity can thus impact the food security and undermine the livelihoods of the people of South Asia. Thus the control over Kashmir will create a zero sum game in which the controller might pose an existential threat to the other by controlling Kashmir’s water and glaciers.
Formulating a robust climate change policy requires regional cooperation, confidence and peace building efforts between all the stakeholders
Earthquakes, floods and intense heat waves are now a reality. The policymakers in South Asia need to focus on framing out a durable climate change policy. Formulating a robust policy requires regional cooperation, confidence and peace building efforts between all the stakeholders. SAARC, despite of its stated climate change objectives, has been made ineffective due to mistrust between the major states of South Asia and India’s persistent efforts to isolate Pakistan. With the passage of the time, the consequences of altering patterns of climate change are increasing. It is the need of the hour that Pakistan and India focus on a joint climate change policy and join hands for adaptive and mitigation policies to combat the adverse climate change.
The writer is an M.Phil. Scholar of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad