Pakistan is in the midst of unprecedented climate catastrophe. Monsoon rains — 2.87 times higher than the national 30-year average — have displaced at least 35 million people while over a thousand people are already reported dead. It is estimated that Pakistan has lost at least $10 billion due to the widespread devastation caused by the floods. Moreover, over 2 million acres of agricultural land and hundreds of thousands of livestock have been destroyed, triggering fears of massive food shortages in the coming months.
These floods not only herald the dystopian future ahead but also indicate that much of that future is already with the global South in the here and now. Pakistan is a victim of the disastrous consequences brought about by climate change despite having contributed almost nothing to the jeopardy of the biosphere. In fact, while rich countries are responsible for over 90% of excess carbon emissions, countries like Pakistan have not even fully used their quota of safe emissions. Yet, while some countries and companies in the global North are wreaking havoc on the planet, countries like Pakistan are bearing the brunt of others’ criminal recklessness and unfettered greed.
Under such a catastrophic situation, the role of international financial institutions, the integral component of the global North-led pillaging of the planet, becomes even more questionable. Instead of coming to Pakistan’s rescue, the IMF is pushing the country into a punishing program that demands draconian austerity and exorbitant taxes on working class people. According to the IMF, Pakistan’s external general government debt are projected to reach $28.3 billion for 2022-23. But these numbers will only increase as a result of the $10 billion loss the country has already incurred and the tremendous expenditures required to undertake the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. In the current moment of floods, unemployment, hyper-inflation and the huge costs of reconstruction, demands for austerity and higher taxation are nothing but an outright attack on life itself in Pakistan.
We believe the time has come for the global North to pay reparations to the global South. Haqooq-e-Khalq Party — together with Pakistan’s trade unions and civil society — is making a global appeal for climate justice and debt relief. Pakistan is in no position to repay its debt obligations and should be permitted to mobilise whatever meager financial resources it has for rehabilitating climate refugees and providing relief to its people. We demand that countries in the global North take ownership of the ecological crisis they have caused. Consequently, they must unconditionally end all of Pakistan’s debt obligations, invest in climate-resilient infrastructure in Pakistan and hold their own fossil fuel companies, global agribusinesses and all their industries exacerbating climate change accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Corporate greed and predatory financial speculation have proven themselves incompatible with the sustainability of life. Today, affirming our common humanity means putting maximum resources at the disposal of the Pakistani people, who are suffering from the consequences of a crisis in which they are not even marginally culpable. Reparations, including debt write-offs, are the necessary and urgent point of departure for meaningful solidarity with flood victims, undoing historical wrongs and beginning the process of healing our planet.