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CWA # 780, 28 August 2022
TWTW#180, 28 August 2022, Vol. 4, No. 29
TWTW#180, 28 August 2022, Vol. 4, No. 29
Abigail Miriam Fernandez
Pakistan: Government declares 'national emergency' amid rain-induced floods
On 25 August, the government declared a 'national emergency' amid the rain-induced floods terming it a "climate-inducted humanitarian crisis of epic proportions." The floods have left 37 people dead, including 343 children, and at least 30 million without shelter. According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Sindh reported the highest number of deaths as 306 people lost their lives due to floods and rain-related incidents from 14 June, while Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab recorded 234, 185 and 165 deaths, respectively.
Additionally, the NDMA reported that Pakistan received 166.8mm of rain in August, as opposed to the average of 48mm, an increase of 241 per cent. Additionally, the abnormal increase in rainfall generated flash floods across the country, particularly in the southern part of Pakistan, leaving several parts inundated, with 23 districts of Sindh being declared "calamity-hit."
During a press conference, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said: "Pakistan is going through its 8th cycle of monsoon; normally the country has only three to four cycles of [monsoon] rain." She added that a "war room" has been established by the prime minister at NDMA, which would lead relief operations across the country and observed that the floods are "a humanitarian disaster of unprecedented proportions."
What is the background?
First, the causes. Since the start of the monsoon in mid-June, heavy rain has caused houses to collapse, flash floods, mudslides and landslides across Pakistan as the intensity of the 2022 floods surpassed the super floods of 2010. According to the NDMA, Higher temperatures and heavy rain have caused Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) in mountainous areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while the Indus and Kabul rivers were above the flood mark in several locations, particularly in Punjab.
Second, preparedness to address the flooding. While the government responded promptly to the loss of lives, livestock, houses, and standing crops, no attention was given before the start of the monsoon season. The authorities failed to apply to disaster-proof subsequent infrastructural development by learning from past calamities. Many cities and villages in Pakistan do not have rainwater or floodwater channels putting excess pressure on sewerage lines and polluting drinking water supplies. Additionally, electricity poles remain exposed, increasing the risk of electrocution, and roads and channels are often not planned, resulting in unplanned clusters in urban areas that clash with the flood cycles.
Third, the impact of climate change. According to a 2021 World Bank report on climate change: "Pakistan faces some of the highest disaster risk levels in the world, ranked 18 out of 191 countries by the 2020 Inform Risk Index. Pakistan also has high exposure to flooding (ranked jointly 8th), including, riverine, flash, and coastal, as well as some exposure to tropical cyclones and their associated hazards (ranked jointly 40th) and drought (ranked jointly 43rd)." The report adds that Pakistan faces a rate of warming considerably above the global average with a potential rise of 1.3°C–4.9°C by the 2090s over the 1986–2005 baseline. Further, the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events are projected to increase, particularly with an increasing number of people affected by flooding likely increase of around five million people exposed to extreme river floods by 2035–2044, and a potential increase of around one million annually exposed to coastal flooding by 2070–2100.
Fourth, the declaration of environmental emergency. In the recent past, Pakistan has been subject to severe weather-related and environmental incidents from landslides, glacier melts, heatwaves and flash floods. Prior to the emergency declared in 2022, the government declared a national emergency to tackle the locust attack which destroyed crops on a large scale in Punjab in 2020.
What does it mean?
First, climate change is fuelling flooding in Pakistan. The monsoon-related flooding has become the worst type of climate-induced disaster in Pakistan. The recent incidents of flooding reveal that change in the weather cycle seems to have added to the frequency and severity of floods causing them to be more disastrous.
Second, the lack of preparedness. The high toll in causalities highlights the lack of preparedness by the relevant authorities and the government. Given that these rain-induced floodings are not a new phenomenon in Pakistan, the authorities are yet to learn from the past and implement measures to curb the situation.
Third, the follow-up on the emergency declaration. While Pakistan has taken steps to achieve SDG-13 earlier, the term climate change has not been included in the formal definition of an "emergency" under the National Climate Change Policy 2012 and the Pakistan Climate Change Act 2017. Unless this is implemented climate initiatives would not be successful.
Also in the news ...
East and Southeast Asia This Week
China: Defence Ministry urges the US, UK and Australia to reconsider nuclear submarine cooperation
On 25 August, China's Defence Ministry Spokesperson Tan Kefei addressed a press conference and urged the US, the UK and Australia to reconsider their cooperation on nuclear submarines. Tan emphasized that the US would violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if they transferred weapons-grade nuclear materials to non-nuclear weapons states. He said: "Nuclear submarine cooperation among these three countries poses severe nuclear proliferation risks, challenges the international framework for nuclear non-proliferation, escalates the arms race and undermines regional peace and stability."
China: People's Liberation Army participates in Vostok-22 strategic exercise
On 25 August, China's People's Liberation Army took part in the Vostok East 2022 strategic exercise in Russia. The Defence Ministry spokesperson Tan Kefei confirmed the Chinese troops' participation and said that India, Belarus, Tajikistan and Mongolia had sent their troops for the exercise. On the Chinese participation in the exercise, Tan said: "The Chinese military's participation in the exercise aims to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the militaries of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic coordination and strengthen the ability to cope with various security threats."
Taiwan: China opposes US Senator's unofficial visit
On 25 August, China's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang opposed US Senator Marsha Blackburn's visit to Taiwan in an unofficial capacity. He said: "These acts have seriously violated the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiques." He further warned the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan and said their efforts to collude with foreign anti-China forces are doomed to failure.
Japan: Nippon Ishin elects new leader
On 27 August, Nobuyuki Baba was elected as the new leader of the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). Baba won by a landslide in the first presidential election of the party. His victory was evident among other candidates as Ichiro Matsui, the current leader who is being replaced, was seen endorsing him. He also had the support of more party members than his two rivals. The party expects equal or more effort from him than Matsui to lead the party. Matsui had headed the party from an Osaka prefecture-based local one to a nationalized party. Nippon Ishin is aiming for a majority in the Parliament's next elections since it is the second largest party in the opposition camp.
Malaysia: Najib Razak sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment
On 23 August, Former premier Najib Razak failed in his final appeal against a graft conviction and was sentenced to 12 years for misappropriating millions of dollars from a company linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The Federal Court upheld Najib's conviction on seven counts of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving SRC International, a company subsidiary of state fund 1MDB. He was taken to Kajang Prison, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
South-East Asia: IMF recommends the need for regulation in crypto assets
On 21 August, IMF, in its blog, published how the correlation between Crypto trading volume and co-movement with equity markets has become stronger after Covid pandemic. Few parts of the world have embraced crypto assets like Asia, where top adopters include individual and institutional investors from India to Vietnam and Thailand. While digitalization can aid in the transition to an environmentally-conscious payment system and also foster financial inclusion, crypto can pose financial stability risks. Before the pandemic, crypto seemed insulated from the financial system. Bitcoin and other assets showed little correlation with Asian equity markets, which helped diffuse financial stability concerns. The total market value of the world's crypto assets surged 20-fold in just a year and a half to USD 3 trillion in December. Then it plunged to less than USD 1 trillion in June as central bank interest rate increases to contain inflation ended easy access to cheap borrowing.
South Asia This Week
Sri Lanka: WHO and FAO to provide essential supplies
On 25 August, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, while congratulating President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the assumption of his presidency, said that the procurement of essential medical goods has already been taking place in Sri Lanka. He added that "Health Emergencies Program of the World Health Organization" will ensure the essential health needs of Sri Lanka. On 26 August, the World Food and Agriculture Organization agreed to provide urea fertilizer to low-income Sri Lankan families. Sri Lanka has been facing an acute fertilizer crisis since former President Rajapaksa announced a policy to introduce organic fertilizer. The aid from FAO will help the farmers as the Maha season is approaching.
Sri Lanka: Chinese ship departs Hambantota
On 22 August, the Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 arrived at the Hambantota Port. The ship had arrived at the port for replenishment. India had raised concerns regarding the ship following which Sri Lanka asked China to defer the arrival of the ship. However, on 16 August, the ship arrived at the Hambantota Port after the delay. The Yuan Wang-class are used for tracking and support of satellite and intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is important to note that Yuanwang class is not a single class of identical design, but instead, a group of different designs grouped under the same series that share the one name.
Nepal-Bangladesh: Request for trilateral energy cooperation
On 26 August, Nepal Electricity Authority and Bangladesh Power Development Board decided to request India's National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Vidyut Vyapar Nigam for a trilateral energy sale and purchase agreement on the Baharampur-Bheramara cross-border power transmission link. The agreement was reached during a secretary-level Joint Steering Committee. According to Nepal's Energy Ministry, Bangladesh will buy 500MW electricity from the 900MW Upper Karnali hydropower project which will be developed by India's GMR Group.
Pakistan: PM Shehbaz visits Qatar to boost economic ties
On 25 August, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif concluded his two-day visit to Qatar on the invitation of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. On his return to Pakistan, PM Shehbaz via Twitter stated that the two countries had a clear vision of future with new opportunities and greater awareness to improve bilateral ties and economic cooperation. Further, he said: "First, Pakistan & Qatar have a clear vision of the future, one that offers new opportunities & avenues in a swiftly changing world. Second, there is a greater awareness of the need for upgrading the bilateral relations by making economic cooperation the pivot of bilateral ties."
Afghanistan: Reported killing of Zawahiri is an allegation, says Taliban
On 25 August, Taliban's spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid stated that the reported killing of the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri is an allegation and that the investigation has yet to be finalized. He said: "It is still at the level of allegation. The results have yet to be clarified. The body has not been found there because of the rockets that targeted the area—the area is destroyed and nothing is left of it." Further, Mujahid criticized the US arguing that the drones flying in Afghan airspace belong to the US, adding that the Taliban considers this an aggression and the US should share these concerns.
Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Armenia-Azerbaijan: Leaders agree to meet for EU-mediated talks
On 25 August, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to hold talks mediated by the European Union on 31 August. The meeting is scheduled to take place in Brussels and be attended by European Council chief Charles Michel who mediated talks between the two leaders in Brussels in May. Previously, on 19 August, senior representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan held a discussion in Brussels. Following the meeting, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar said: "good and substantive discussions" with Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia's Security Council, and Hikmet Haciyev, a foreign-policy adviser to the president of Azerbaijan.
Iran: Leaders of US, UK, France and Germany hold discussions on JCPOA
On 21 August, The White House issued a statement confirming a conversation between the leaders of the US, UK, France and Germany on JCPOA. Without delving into the details of the talk, the White House added that the discussion included the issues of Iran's nuclear program, its activities detrimental to regional stability, and the need to strengthen the support to the allies in the Middle East. On 22 August, Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief said that the current stage of JCPOA talks is the 'equilibrium' and 'there was a response from Iran' that he considers 'reasonable'.
Iraq: PM appeals to masses to not get subverted as political crises continues
On 27 August, the Iraqi Prime Minister said that the political crisis is undoing the achievements made in the past years. Addressing the Islamic Day of Combating Violence against Women, he said that "this political crisis threatens the security achievements and the nation's stability. Now the solution is for all political parties to make concessions for the interests of Iraq and Iraqis".
On 24 August, Iraq's judiciary resumed work following the withdrawal of demonstrations and siege on the headquarters of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Federal Supreme Court. On 16 August, Muqtada al-Sadr had announced the indefinite postponement of the massive rally pressurizing the dissolution of the Parliament, after reports of back-channel talks to resolve the political crisis and the chances of violence during rallies.
Mali: Interim military prime minister appointed
On 22 August, Mali appointed a new interim prime minister, as reports say civilian Prime Minister Choguel Maiga has been admitted to hospital. The new Prime Minister, Col. Abdoulaye Maiga was previously minister of territorial administration and government spokesperson. The most senior government positions are held by the military as Col. Abdoulaye Maiga appointed the new Prime Minister. He is a major critic of France, accusing Paris of being neo-colonial and involvement in Malian security and democracy.
Egypt: Egypt hosts five-state Arab summit, GERD on agenda
On 23 August, BBC reported, according to Egyptian media, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi is hosting a five-nation Arab summit in the Mediterranean coastal city of New Alamein. The leaders of Bahrain, the UAE, Iraq and Jordan are reportedly attending the summit. The summit is expected to discuss the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya and Egypt and Sudan's dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Renaissance Dam. Those in attendance were President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Bahrain's King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
Angola: Ruling party leads the elections, says election commission
On 25 August, the election commission said that 86 per cent of ballots had been counted which suggests the ruling Marxist People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) is likely to win the elections, giving President Joao Lourenco a second five-year term. The current President Joao Lourenco of the governing MPLA stood against Adalberto Costa Junior, leader of the former rebel group Unita and other six candidates. The MPLA party holds a majority with 52 per cent of votes, while the main opposition Unita holds 42 per cent, marking a narrow lead. Nearly 14.7 million people were registered to vote. The MPLA has been in power for 50 years since independence. Abel Chivukuvuku, Unita's vice-president candidate, dismissed the provisional results saying they were not reliable. He said: "Tomorrow morning we will have clearer and more concrete indicators and whoever wants to celebrate will … I hope it's us". The election was widely seen as the country's most competitive in history.
Sudan: US sends first ambassador in 25 years
On 25 August, the US sent its first ambassador to Sudan in 25 years. The decision came two years after it removed Sudan from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. On 24 August, Ambassador John Godfrey arrived in the capital, Khartoum. He said via twitter: "I am delighted to arrive in Sudan. I look forward to deepening relations between Americans and Sudanese and to supporting the Sudanese people's aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and a transition to democracy. In 1993, Sudan was listed with the countries that sponsor terrorism over the accusations of supporting al-Qaeda. In 1997, the US removed its downgraded representation in Sudan from ambassadors and imposed economic sanctions.
Algeria: French President Macron visits the country, expects to repair stranded relations
On 25 August, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Algeria, expected to repair fractured relations with the country. The move came as the country's oil and gas reserves have new strategic importance due to Europe's impending energy crisis. The visit comes after long-time tensions over Algeria's bloody war of independence. Last year, Algeria recalled its ambassador to Paris, signalling a mutual interest to reset the relations. According to the Elysee palace, President Macron has "made the choice to orientate this visit towards the future … and lay down the basis for a relaunching of the relationship".
Europe and The Americas This Week
Europe: A new proposal to conserve fish stocks in the Baltic Sea
On 23 August, the European Commission passed a proposal for "fishing opportunities" in the Baltic Sea. A per the proposal, the EU member states will henceforth set a margin for maximum quantity of commercial fishes that can be fished from the sea basin. It is to increase fishing opportunities while still maintaining the population of Salmon, western, and eastern cod and western herring. The move is expected to improve the fish stocks in the Baltic Sea, which is currently facing a worst environmental stress of losing marine habitat and downgrade of environment. Post the adoption by the European Commission, the European Council is set to examine the applicability in mid-October.
Ukraine: 22 killed in Russian attack as Ukraine celebrates 31st independence day
On 24 August, Ukraine celebrated its 31st independence day. Charred remains of Russia's tanks and armours were laid down as war trophies in central Kyiv to mark the day and Ukraine's war efforts. However, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had issued a warning against public events in the capital city in the fear of a Russian attack. Russian forces launched a rocket attack on a train station in Chaplyne in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, killing 22 civilians. Zelenskyy, in a somber address, said: "On 24 February, we were told: You have no chance. On 24 August, we say: Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!"
Ukraine: US grants new USD 3 billion to Ukraine on 31st Independence Day
On 24 August, to mark Ukraine's independence day, US president Joe Biden announced a new aid package. USD 3 billion have been granted by the US government in security assistance, but it is expected to take several months to reach Kyiv. The new package will be funded from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) which has been appropriated by Congress to ease the Biden administration's procurement of weapons from the industry. The Pentagon has said that this can include six additional surface-to-air missile systems known as NASAMS, 24 counter-artillery radars, Puma drones, and counter-drone systems known as VAMPIRE.
Europe: Worst drought in the last 500 years
On 23 August, the European Commission reported on the Joint Research Center's (JRC) august report on the drought condition in Europe. The updated report says that the current drought has covered 47 per cent of the EU under "warning" conditions and 17 per cent under "alert" where vegetation and crops are being significantly impacted. The severe precipitation deficit has affected almost all rivers across Europe, affecting hydropower generation, cooling systems of power plants, and river transport. Scientists at the JRC are of the opinion that the Drought can be the worst in Europe in at least 500 years.
Venezuela: Sources confirm Chinese defence firm is exporting oil from Venezuela despite sanctions
On 26 August, Reuters reported that China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) has been carrying Venezuelan crude on three tankers it acquired that year from PetroChina, CNPC's listed vehicle. The firm has taken 13 cargoes carrying a total of about 25 million barrels of oil, including two vessels due to arrive in China in September, according to the loading schedules of Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA, and tanker tracking data from Refinitiv and Vortexa Analytics. The 13 shipments, worth about USD 1.5 billion at formula prices for Venezuela's flagship-grade Merey crude, were declared "crude oil" at Chinese customs, without specifying origin, said one of the sources. China has not officially reported any crude oil imports from Venezuela since October 2019. Venezuela's debt dates to 2007, the era of then-President Hugo Chavez, when the country borrowed more than USD 50 billion from Beijing under loan-for-oil deals.
The US: NASA confirms orbit of targeted asteroid
On 25 August, NASA published on its web that using some of the world's most powerful telescopes, the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) investigation team last month completed a six-night observation campaign to confirm earlier calculations of the orbit of Dimorphos, DART's asteroid target, around its larger parent asteroid, Didymos, confirming where the asteroid is expected to be located at the time of impact. DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid's motion in space through kinetic impact. This method will have DART deliberately collide with a target asteroid.
The US: Twitter and Meta take down pro-US propaganda campaign targeting Russia, China and Iran
On 26 August, a new report from Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) revealed that hundreds of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts were engaged in manipulation and spam that promoted pro-Western narratives were removed by Twitter and Meta. As part of multiple covert campaigns, the troll farms were using deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western narratives to social media users in the Middle East and Central Asia. According to Graphika and SIO, the troll farms had a rather limited impact, as most of their tweets had only a handful of likes or retweets. While 19% of the covert accounts had more than 1,000 followers, the most-followed accounts were overt accounts claiming to be connected to the US military.
Maritime: Fifth UN intergovernmental conference fails to sign the global oceans treaty
On 26 August, the fifth session of UN intergovernmental conference concluded with no agreement. During the past four sessions, there was progress in closing the difference between the UN member countries and it was hoped that fifth session could be last meeting to reach the Treaty. Debate still persists on marine genetic resources and in establishment of marine protected areas. According to Greenpeace's Protect the Oceans Campaign spokesperson, the failure explains on how the countries are still focused towards "hypothetical future profits" over sustaining the ocean life. The reason behind the failure of talk is observed to be due to the absence of high-level political involvement, especially Canada and the US.
About the Authors
Ankit Singh, Akriti Sharma, Harini Madhusudan and Rashmi Ramesh are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Padmashree Anandhan, Rishma Banerjee, Sai Pranav, Joel Jacob and Anu Maria are Research Associates at NIAS.
NIAS Africa Team
NIAS Africa Team
NIAS Africa Team