Following months of intense humidity and a catastrophic heat wave — temperatures reaching upwards of 124 F — Pakistan is once again bearing the brunt of the Global North-induced climate crisis. 

Members of Women’s Democratic Front and Progressive Students Federation set up a solidarity, donation relief camp. Credit: Awami Workers Party- Islamabad

According to the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the government of Pakistan, due to monsoon rains and melting glaciers, one-third of the country is under water; 33 million people are displaced; 1.1 million homes have been completely destroyed or damaged; 3.6 million acres of crops and orchards have been washed away; and 1 million livestock have been killed. (Women’s Democratic Front, Sept. 9, 2022)

Organizations that are delivering direct relief are reporting more detailed accounts of this disaster. According to the Women’s Democratic Front, there is a much higher scale of devastation and losses. The scale of this disaster is unfathomable. 

The WDF has noted: “[W]omen and children from the working class, mainly peasant, tenant and landless families in peripheries, are the most and worst affected ones. Most male workers have left for Gulf countries and urban centers within Pakistan, due to poverty and joblessness caused by prolonged imperialist war, financial imperialism and debt servicing for decades. 

“High male labor migration has resulted in the feminization of agriculture and natural resource management. Their crops, farms and tools, fisheries, livestock, poultry, homes and belongings have been washed away. They even can’t find dry land for funerals and the burial of their loved ones, who continue to die due to disaster and diseases.”

Climate catastrophe, colonialism and capitalism

Since 1959, Pakistan has been responsible for only 0.4% of the world’s historic CO2 emissions. The U.S. is responsible for 21.5%. 

The events happening in Pakistan are not unprecedented. Rather, they are a continuation of colonialism’s legacy in the region. During its 200 years of domination in the subcontinent, the British Empire was responsible for the deaths of 35 million people; and the cost of colonial theft in India by the British equals to $45 trillion. The Bengal Famine of 1943, which killed 3 million, was the result of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s colonial policy. 

Shortly after gaining independence from Britain, Pakistan became a tool to further U.S. imperialism. The WDF explains: “We are suffering for the last 40 years from an imperialist war [waged by the U.S.] in our region. Pakistan is a frontline state and a battlefield for this war.

“Our youth continued to be used as gun fodder/cheap labor in this war. Despite repeated floods in 2010, 2011 and 2014, there has been a heavy increase in military expenditure at the cost of water infrastructure, better water and natural resource management and public welfare. The war has also caused environmental degradation. The enforced migration of Afghans to Pakistan caused increased pressure on natural resources and food security.”

Now, another Cold War has started — this time between the U.S. and China.

The WDF states: “The growth and profiteering-based capitalist development model of the international financial institutions (IFIs) has disrupted the natural flow of river water. Big dams, barrages and canals in irrigated feudal heartlands are also a reason for continued floods in the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan, Pakhtunkhwa and Seriaki Waseb. All the big flood infrastructure projects were financed by IFIs, and they never considered the potential environmental impacts.” 

Flooding in Pakistan has caused an estimated $10 billion in damages. The U.S. has pledged a pathetic $30 million in “humanitarian assistance.”

Smash U.S. imperialism

The ongoing catastrophe in the Pakistan crisis is a political issue; as Marxist-Leninists, we must contextualize it as such. WDF explains: “Transforming structures of exploitation and oppression at home is our own battle, and we will fight that battle. However, we think that the left in the Global North needs to struggle against imperialism within the imperialist Global North to not only decarbonize but also decolonize and demilitarize the Global South and the world. We believe that this is the battle the Western left must fight to express solidarity with us.”

There’s nothing natural about the disaster in Pakistan, and there’s no such thing as a coincidental revolution. The only way to defeat U.S. imperialism is through international solidarity. Decarbonize, Decolonize and Demilitarize! Solidarity with the masses of Pakistan! Build a workers world!

Tania Siddiqi

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Tania Siddiqi

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