Pakistan receives heavy – often destructive – rains during its annual monsoon season, which are crucial for agriculture and water supplies.
But a downpour as intense as this year’s not been seen for decades, and Pakistan officials blame climate change, which is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather around the world.
Pakistan is responsible for less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but is eighth on a list compiled by the non-governmental organisation, Germanwatch, of countries deemed most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by climate change.
TENTS AND TARPAULINS NEEDED
A flood relief plan scaled by the Pakistan government and UN last month called for an immediate US$160 million in international funding, and aid is already arriving.
On Thursday, a United States Air Force C-17 landed – the first American military plane in Pakistan for years – bringing desperately needed tents and tarpaulins for temporary shelter.
While Washington is a key supplier of military hardware to Islamabad, relations have been fractious as a result of conflicting interests in neighbouring Afghanistan – especially since the Taliban returned to power there in August last year.
The meteorological office says Pakistan received five times more rain than normal in 2022 – Padidan, a small town in Sindh, has been drenched by more than 1.8m since the monsoon began in June.
The effect of the heavy rains has been twofold – flash floods in rivers in the mountainous north that washed away roads, bridges and buildings in minutes, and a slow accumulation of water in the southern plains that has submerged hundreds of thousands of square kilometres of land.
In Jaffarabad district of Balochistan on Thursday, villagers were fleeing their homes on makeshift rafts made from upturned wooden “charpoy” beds.