July 17, 2023
By Shaukat Korai
Human rights and climate activists gathered at Karachi’s Frere Hall on Sunday, July 16, to voice their concerns regarding climate change, and called for immediate attention to environmental preservation.
Several organisations joined hands to amplify the message and bring attention to the urgent need for taking positive steps to prevent catastrophic climate disasters.
“They are unable to save us from climate disasters such as floods, heavy rainfall, urban floods or heat,”
said climate activist and Climate March organiser Yasir Husain aka Darya.
Salman Baloch, a participant hailing from Malir, called attention to the negative environmental impacts of the construction of Bahria Town, Malir Expressway and the Defence Housing Society (DHA) in the periphery of Kirthar National Park.
While speaking about the consequences of the Malir Highway, Baloch said, “We used to see so many birds in Malir. There were parrots, cranes and butterflies there. But, sadly, the greed in people let them only eye the land there.”
He emphasized the terrible conditions of the River Indus which has been affected by solid pollutants.
“The Indus Delta has been destroyed by plastic garbage and sewage mixed with industrial waste, and reckless development on wrongfully ‘reclaimed’ coastal lands,”
Transgender rights activist Hina Pathani aka Surkhina said that nature should not be meddled with. In the name of cleanup efforts, Pathani advised people to “first clean their hearts and minds.”
The transgender community was uprooted by the floods last year, particularly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, she said, adding that the displaced people arrived in Karachi at that time, but the government has yet to offer assistance in their rehabilitation. She said that affectees were forced to seek shelter on their own in the slums, where the locals were as resistant to accepting them.
A majority of participants of Climate March 2023 were women, transgender people, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples. The presence of marginalized communities strengthened the manifesto of the march.
Climate change is a larger threat to women and minorities residing in Pakistan. An international study has found strong links between climate change and incidents of violence against women, particularly in South Asian countries.
The research concluded that each 1°C increase in the annual mean temperature contributed to a mean increase of 4.49 per cent in the prevalence of violence against women.