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People and Planet: A third of Pakistan is underwater and no one is talking about it

Correction appended.

Last month, Pakistan began experiencing monsoon rainfall 10 times stronger than usual for the country. Today, one-third of Pakistan, roughly the size of the U.K., is underwater. The floods have killed 1,100, including 399 children. Millions of homes, crops, livestock and major infrastructure have been destroyed. As aid workers beg for donations for the over 33 million affected people, the rest of the world is turning a blind eye to the hell in which millions of Pakistanis live. There are two major reasons why.

First, Pakistan is a country that was already facing widespread poverty prior to the recent flooding. As of 2018, 21.9% of Pakistanis lived under the poverty line; god only knows how many more have been pushed under in the flood’s wake. 

There is an undeniable theme of Western countries pulling through with flying colors for other wealthier Western, majority white countries while those suffering in non-white countries are promptly ignored. That being said, many Western countries are already severely neglecting the poor, specifically poor people of color. It’s not surprising to see them not care about poor people of color who are also foreigners.

For example, compare the outpour of support for Ukraine amid the Russia-Ukraine war to the minimal news coverage Pakistan is receiving. In just four days, €100 million was raised by the British public along with €25 million in match-funding from the British government. Meanwhile, Pakistan is told that the U.K. “stands with them” and was given €15 million, not nearly enough to put a dent into mending the lives so disrupted by this unimaginable flooding.

This is not to say that Ukraine is not a deserving beneficiary of those donations, but simply that Pakistanis deserve the same sense of outpouring global support to combat the flooding as Ukraine received in defending itself against Russia. 

Perhaps the U.K. could source some support for Pakistan out of the estimated €6 billion budget for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral?

The second reason Pakistan’s crisis is being ignored is because of how petrified the public is of climate change. After all, the idea of the previously dried-up Lake Manchar now flooding the surrounding village for the third time earlier this month is terrifying. It all happened so fast.

Leading scientists say that the human race is heading into ‘uncharted territory of destruction’ as governments and businesses worldwide have failed to act quickly enough to prevent climate change. Before the floods in Pakistan, there was a heatwave across Europe, a prolonged drought in China, a megadrought in the U.S. and conditions approaching famine in parts of Africa. All ends of the weather spectrum are in crisis, people are dying and no one will do a thing. 

Whether you are in denial or a heightened state of consciousness about the climate, natural disasters resulting from climate change are taking lives. It is undeniable that we are all bound to it. It is time for world leaders to forget about political lines and borders and begin to recognize the reality that we are all stuck on this planet. When it falls apart, it will take all of us down with it.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated that Pakistan was a country in the Middle East. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

Meg Diehl is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Meg by tweeting her at @irlbug.

Meg Diehl

Assistant Opinion Editor

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