Stories about climate change

Balochistan is thirsty for a drop of water – what will it take for Pakistan to notice?

It is no secret that Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is facing a chronic water shortage issue and has been experiencing severe droughts for decades. Water is one of the basic necessities of life, fundamental for the existence of life to begin with, and without it we will all cease to exist. And yet the province is moving closer towards becoming a land without water. At least seven small and large rivers flow across Balochistan, from which the Hingol River (the longest river in the province) covers a length of 560 kilometres. Despite the flow of these seven rivers, Balochistan is in ...

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COP24: Time is running out and this may be our last attempt to save our planet

The UN Climate Change Conference 2018, or COP24 as it widely known, started with a bang and ended with a whimper two weeks later in Katowice, Poland. The bang came at the high level opening ceremony on December 2nd where celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sir David Attenborough warned negotiators that “time is running out” for the world to take action to control global warming. Unfortunately, their warnings were not taken seriously as the Paris Rulebook that was finalised at Katowice on December 15th actually ended up watering down the Paris Agreement, especially in terms of finance, loss and ...

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While Balochistan’s natural gas keeps the rest of Pakistan warm, its own residents are freezing in silence

On a cool and sunny November afternoon, Ahmad Habib sat behind his shop, located in Quetta’s main Liaquat Bazar, accompanied by a handful of other local shop owners. They sat together, enjoying the traditional kahwa with gur (jaggery), a drink designed to keep their bodies warm for long. Unlike the past four years, this year’s winter is warm and appealing, mainly due to an abundance of sunny days. More often than not, mid-November is a time when the strength of the heat gradually weakens and cool, dry wind arrives for an extended stay. These cool winds slowly whisper and signal the ...

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Declared ‘intangible’, the heritage of Kalash is over 3,000 years old – but will it survive the 21st century?

‘Ishpata Inn and Restaurant’, says the sign to a roadside hotel in Bumburet Valley in the Chitral district. Ishpata means welcome in the Kalasha language spoken exclusively by the endangered Kalash people, an ethnic group that has lived in three secluded valleys of these towering mountains for centuries: Bumburet, Rumbur and Birir. There are only around 4,000 Kalash villagers left in Chitral. They are one of the last peoples of western Asia to retain their aboriginal culture and have survived many waves of invaders, refusing to convert to Islam. Their neighbours across the mountains in the north-western region of ...

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Why reverting to the karez system might save Balochistan’s water and drought crisis

In an arid country like Pakistan, water in the form of rivers, glaciers and groundwater is life – it is what gives us sustenance. When there is too little, we have droughts, and when there is too much, we have floods. This is how it has been for centuries in this part of the world, and it remains how it is in Balochistan, home to the 7,000-year-old Mehrgarh civilisation. Pakistan’s largest province is currently in the midst of a drought, and yet some districts have been flooded as well. I was part of a group of journalists from Islamabad who ...

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The 2016 US Presidential Elections seemed like a nightmare… until the 2018 midterm elections

On October 27th, Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns and committed a mass shooting of worshippers, killing 11 people and injuring multiple others. In a country that has had its fair share of mass shootings over the past several years, this ranks as amongst the deadliest attacks against the Jewish community to ever take place on US soil. The attack took the lives of worshippers, both young and old, including 97-year-old Rose Mallinger, while a Holocaust survivor was fortunate enough to avoid this shooting as he was ...

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Siksa Valley: Turning Gilgit-Baltistan’s barren lands into green miracles

I had never been past Khaplu in the Ganche District of Baltistan, a lovely green valley encircled by towering mountains. I had stayed a few times at the picturesque Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel, which has painstakingly been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel Hence, I was excited to actually drive past Khaplu and head further north towards our border area with India’s Ladakh region. This is a restricted area controlled by the Army and most tourists are turned back. Luckily, we had clearances as we were heading to a village ...

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Pakistan’s insecurity, India’s leverage, and the most generous Indus Waters Treaty

The Indo-Pak relationship has become a byword and a cautionary tale in what nation states must not do when interacting with one another. Whether it is the complex Kashmir issue, cross-border terror, trade issues, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), or even the allegedly “low hanging” and easily resolvable issues of Siachen and Sir Creek, the two countries have been unable to come to terms. In the backdrop of failed agreements, lost opportunities and active sabotage of attempted détentes, one instance of cooperation on a critical issue bucks this trend, and that is the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). The treaty was ...

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Is Donald Trump the first real illegitimate president of the US?

Washington is perpetually buzzing with activity. It’s been like that ever since Donald Trump descended into the Oval Office. However, this time around, the buzz is a bit of a different sort. Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, read through the expansive indictment charge list against 13 Russian individuals, three Russian companies and one American last Friday. It became nothing but self-evident that Trump and his cronies wittingly or “unwittingly” sold out the 2016 US presidential election to the Russians in the most callous and reckless manner. According to the 37-page special, counsel Bob Mueller produced indictment that the Russian-run, pro-Kremlin, St Petersburg-based, Internet Research Agency, manipulated ...

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India may not consider its smog a health hazard, but that does not give them the right to mock the Sri Lankan team for refusing to play

On April 22, 1998, India were playing against the mighty Australia at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The little master, Sachin Tendulkar, had by then become synonymous with Indian cricket. The Aussies set a target of 285 in a must-win game for India to reach the final of the triangular series. The men in blue were surging ahead, with Tendulkar at the crease. The score was 143/4, when a sandstorm struck the city. Ravi Shastri, former Indian all-rounder and a commentator at that match, exclaimed in surprise, “We have seen rain stop play. We have seen bad light stop play,” adding ...

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