Pakistan seeks financial aid as floods threaten economic output
Pakistan will seek financial aid from various institutions to support its rehabilitation following heavy monsoon rains and floods that cost the country’s economy more than $4 billion, its foreign minister said on Sunday.
At least 1,033 people have died and more than 33 million others have been affected in Pakistan due to flash floods caused by heavier than usual monsoon rains that started in June. Sindh and Balochistan were among the provinces devastated by the floods.
The heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan were caused by La Nina weather conditions, which refer to colder than average sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
In a June weather forecast, the country’s climate change minister, Senator Sherry Rehman, warned Pakistan’s upcoming monsoon season would be “part of the global La Nina weather pattern”, predicting above-normal rainfall until in August at least along the foothills of the Himalayas. , Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and central parts of Punjab region.
“The early onset of monsoons after a debilitating heat wave across South Asia has already taken its toll in parts of India and Bangladesh,” Rehman said in a statement.
“There are also predictions that Pakistan could even experience a similar scale of flooding that happened in 2010 when a fifth of the country was inundated,” she added, urging local authorities to take action. precautions.
La Nina conditions also precipitated the abnormal rainfall that caused the 2010 floods in Pakistan, which killed at least 1,000 people and affected 20 million others.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the economic impact could exceed $4 billion due to the destruction of bridges and buildings. The floods also interrupted agricultural activities in Pakistan.
Reconstruction will be difficult for Pakistan, which already faces the risk of economic default amid low foreign exchange reserves and high inflation. Pakistan has asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reinvigorate the $6 billion bailout it subscribed to in 2019.
The IMF board is expected to decide this week whether to release $1.2 billion under the seventh and eighth tranches of the rescue package. Bhutto-Zardari said the two sides reached an agreement on personnel.
“Going forward, I would expect not only the IMF, but the international community and international agencies to really grasp the level of devastation,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
The minister added that Pakistan will appeal to UN member states to help with the relief efforts, after which Pakistan would consider building “climate proof” infrastructure.
“In the next phase, when we turn to rehabilitation and reconstruction, we will have conversations not only with the IMF but with the World Bank, [and] the Asian Development Bank,” he said.
The UN said on August 25 that it had earmarked $3 million for UN aid agencies and partners in Pakistan to support flood-affected areas, focusing on the most vulnerable.
Bigger than expected calamity
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has pledged 10 billion rupees ($125 million) for Balochistan, which has experienced internet disruptions and power outages following heavy rains, Daily Pakistan reported.
The floods also destroyed a key railway bridge linking Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, to other parts of Pakistan.
“The scale of the calamity is greater than expected,” Sharif said on Twitter Saturday.
Reuters contributed to this report.