Pakistan’s Environmental Challenges By Zile Huma

Pakistan is facing many environmental challenges, which pose serious threats to human health and life. First of all, climate change is a non-traditional threat for Pakistan. Pakistan has been declared among top ten countries most affected by climate change. Climate change is negatively impacting health, agriculture and overall economy of the country. The main reasons are carbon emission, deforestation, population explosion and lack of finances to mitigate and adapt to climate change effects.
Water scarcity and clean drinking water is the talk of the town these days. Pakistan is a water scarce country. The main causes are climate change, lack of enough reservoirs to store water, water issues with India, and old irrigation system and water wastages in domestic consumption and lack of awareness. Air pollution, poor waste management and population bomb are major hurdles behind the availability of clean drinking water for everyone in Pakistan.
Similarly, one of the biggest issues is the increasing deforestation in the country. Pakistan could not achieve the UN’s set target of 25percentof forest cover on its total area, besides two plantations drives annually. The reason behind deforestation is energy crises, commercial benefits and domestic use. Though certain plans have been launched to increase forest cover, which includes Green Pakistan Program, Billion Tree Tsunami and REDD Plus, but it will take some years for these plants to grow and replace already cut big trees.
Another important issue that is devastating for our environment is air pollution. The release of toxic gases from factories, brick kilns and carbon emission from transport vehicles are main reasons for day-by-day air pollution. Pakistan has all the environmental laws, but the government and citizens lack the will to implement and follow those laws completely. This also undermines the superiority of laws. The Pakistani nation needs to adopt trend of using public transport in daily life. Another reason for air pollution is increasing deforestation in the country. The air pollution causes respiratory diseases, and skin and eye infections as well.
Pakistan has laws to protect the environment, but the government and citizens lack the will to implement and follow those laws completely
Another important environmental issue is waste management. Our factories and hospitals dispose thousands of tons of their waste into our oceans, lakes and rivers, which are life-threatening for aquatic and human life who are dependent on these water resources. Similarly, lack of proper mechanisms, allocated landfills sites and negligence on local municipal corporations and public are main cause of wastes dumped openly on roads and streets.
The use of plastic bags is another challenge because a single plastic bag takes hundreds of years to degrade. These plastic bags flying in the air, floating in water bodies and dumped on streets do not only offer hideous sights but are also threatening for humans and other living organisms. All provincial and federal governments in Pakistan have banned the use of plastic bags,but citizens are not complying with the laws. It also challenges the writ of law and strategies to implement those laws.
Increasing urbanisation is damaging our natural environment. The increasing population and urbanisation are putting pressure on the government to provide more facilities like housing, transportation, food and health facilities thus leading to the development of more concrete infrastructure. This is leading towards eliminating our forest cover and negatively impacting biodiversity and disturbing whole ecosystem. Urban forestation is among one of the best solutions to deal with the challenge of urbanisation.
The noise pollution is another problem for environmental conservation efforts. Pressure horns and factories cause noise pollution. The noise pollution can lead to psychological problems thus disrupting social relationships. Again, the issue is with non-implementation and compliance with laws of the country.
It’s high time for all of us to ponder upon environmental issues at all levels seriously.
The writer is based in Islamabad and works on environmental issues.She can be reached at She tweets at @zilehumma_1
Published in Daily Times, June 2nd 2018.

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