A blistering heatwave has gripped Pakistan and neighbouring India as temperatures are persistently soaring and breaking all previous records. This year an unusual harsh weather pattern prevailed throughout April, which is usually witnessed in May or June. Everyone is at the risk of the scorching heat but those who are vulnerable need to exercise extra care during these unprecedented weather conditions. In Pakistan, the Ministry of Climate Change has already issued an official heatwave alert to all provinces as abrupt temperature rises would also jeopardise public health and agriculture. On top of the blistering heatwave, citizens are braving almost hours of load shedding daily across the country, which has also led to water shortage in various cities. There is also a risk of a potential spike in patients with common ailments related to harsh summer conditions like heat stroke and gastro. Keeping in view the previous experience of heatwave calamity, the concerned authorities need to be alert in the coming days. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), extremely hot weather will persist for the next couple of days. It has been reported in the media that temperature is likely to soar 44 degrees Celsius this week. An unexpected change in weather is not a new phenomenon. Our country has been experiencing these disasters associated with climate change for the last few years. Climate change is now a globally acknowledged problem. The scientific community believes that global warming is a very real and immediate problem and the solution lies in increasing forest cover and reducing the pollution level by cutting the use of fossil fuels.
While most other countries have adapted to climate change and have been able to manage freak weather incidents, Pakistan has not caught up. It is still ill-equipped to deal with any calamity due to inherent flaws in the system as well as inefficient machinery. We cannot avoid or delay a weather-related crisis by burying our heads in the sand. Rather, a proactive approach is needed to tackle extreme weather conditions. If the ongoing heatwave can teach us anything, it is that the government needs to enhance the ability of its institutions to predict and manage crises before they arise – anything less is intolerable negligence. Moreover, citizens brave sweltering weather conditions coupled with frequent power outages on a daily basis during each summer. The heatwave this year coincided with the advent of Ramadan and citizens have to fast amid the worst energy crisis. Despite repeated promises to increase electricity generation by the government, load shedding and power failures across the country keep exacerbating. It is the government’s responsibility to come to the rescue of the masses and ensure the availability of enough electricity to avert the obvious looming crisis. Although the government cannot stop natural calamities, it can take some preventive measures to decrease the extent of the citizens’ suffering.