Even after 75 years of its inde­pendence, Pakistan is grap­pling with a myriad of challenges both internally and externally. Cli­mate change is one of the daunting issues that need to be addressed immediately. Although Islamabad has achieved the Sustainable De­velopment Goal 13 (SDG-13) of “Climate Action” in 2020 – 10 years prior to the 2030 deadline – climate-related concerns have resurfaced. The situation of Balo­chistan suffering from flash floods and torrential rain is evidence in this regard. To cope with such anthropogenic disasters, climate literacy is the need of the hour which is currently 43%.

Such climate-related instanc­es have wreaked havoc because of the exponential rise in population. Pakistan is currently the fifth-larg­est populous country with over 220 million population as of 2022. If the current trend continues, it is pro­jected to increase to around 300 million by 2040. The country is al­ready experiencing ramifications in the form of water scarcity, food inse­curity, poverty and unemployment.

Pakistan’s per capita water avail­ability has drastically reduced to 860 cubic metres from 2150 CM in between 1980 and 2017. Its after-effects are already visible in the region as Punjab and Sindh have been quarrelling over the long-held dispute of unequal distribu­tion of water resources.

Another sticking point in the way toward progress and devel­opment is food insecurity. As per the United Nations Development Programmes National Human De­velopment report, food insecurity in Pakistan has risen to 38%. The same report has highlighted that stunted and wasted growth rates in children under 5 are 38% and 18% respectively. Moreover, the Global Hunger Index has ranked Pakistan 92 in its 2021 report. Furthermore, the ongoing flare-up between Russia and Ukraine has aggravated the situation as Islam­abad is the third-largest importer of wheat from Kyiv.

The fifth stumbling block is the interrelated problem of pov­erty and unemployment. In ac­cordance with the World Bank’s statistics, poverty rates in Paki­stan during the periods 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-2023 are pro­jected at 39.3%, 39.2%, and 37.8 respectively. Be that as it may, im­provement in the said issue is mi­nuscule. Thus, in conjunction with the SDG-1 and SDG-8 in respect of poverty and unemployment respectively, equal opportunity should be the order of the day.

In view of the above-mentioned facts, there is a dire need to formu­late a broad-based and consensual framework aimed at envisioning a better and prosperous future.

MUHAMMAD AFTAB AHMAD,

Faisalabad.