Disrupt the status quo – 16 Jun 2022

THREE years ago, Pakistan`s economy shrank, and growth was at minus 0.5 per cent. The following year, 2020-21, the growth rate jumped up to 5.7pc, more than twice the initial target for that year set by the government. Call this the `V-recovery` following Covid-19. Yet, even more remarkable, and unanticipated by every single economist, is the announcement that Pakistan is about to achieve 6pc GDP growth in the fiscal year which is about to come to an end this month. Moreover, this near 6pc growth is also considerably higher than the expected growth rate announced this time last year.

It is not often that government targets announced a year in advance are achieved in any single year, and here we have two consecutive years where the economy has grown considerably more than anticipated. Looking at these trends, at one level one can easily be misled into believing that Pakistan`s economy was moving ahead very effectively and was poised for take-off yet again, with substantial developmental returns and with all the people of Pakistan benefiting through trickle-down neoliberal economics. Add to this the remarkable fact that Pakistan`s per capita income is the highest it has ever been, and this line of argument gathers considerable credibility, notwithstanding the fact that we have not been given figures for inequality for many years.

Yet, today, Pakistan`s government lies begging at the feet of the IMF for financial assistance, for survival, for fear of going bankrupt and defaulting, as if the economy`s growth evaporated in a matter of weeks. Something is very seriously wrong with Pakistan`s economy.

Just these few facts reveal that there are fundamental flaws in Pakistan`s economy, flaws which neither military governments, quasi-military governments, or those who claim electoral legitimacy, have been willing to address. Even if they are aware of these deep-seated structuralissues, all governments are eager to avoid any serious economic reform, since these require serious commitment and willingness to take on numerous sets of vested interests, many of whom are direct or indirect supporters and are beneficiaries of government patronage and largesse. Every political arrangement is built on collaborators, whether from the polity or from proper ty and capit al, and undertaking reformsundermines these interests.

More importantly, these trends also show that something is not quite right with the nature, manifestation and quality of growth in Pakistan, and the foundations on which this growth has been built are fragile, like a house of cards which comes crashing down after every short spurt of so-called impressive growth. Short-term gains matter far more to incumbents largely through rent seeking since this keeps collaborators, coalitions and vested interests liquid and profitable.

Recent global factors are also affecting Pakistan politically and economically. One is the fact that after four decades, the region is at a different stage of disequilibrium. At least for now, Afghanistan isno longer central to either Pakistan`s military or geopolitical focus, nor for the US or other actors.

There has been a change in geopolitics more broadly across the globe and with regard to China, new alignments, new and changing priorities, both in the Middle East and beyond. Pakistan`s importance and value on the regional and global scale has been considerably diminished and this has economic consequences. Ballouts will not come so easily.

Importantly, there is considerable global slowdown, a war in Europe and very high and rising commodity prices. While similar to 2008, this time round China has not been able to rescue the world economy. While Pakistan has been somewhat immune to global trends in the past, perhaps it will be less so this time round.

For instance, amongst the 40 countries and regions listed in The Economist, which includes Pakistan, 37 countries and regions have faced significant devaluation vis-à-vis the US dollar, Turkeyby as much as 50pc since last year and Pakistan by 23pc. With rising US interest rates and a stronger dollar, all currencies are going to be weakened, not just Pakistan`s. Moreover, because of this and the war in Ukraine, commodity prices are expected to stay high for many months. Inflation is now a global phenomenon and expected to continue well into the next fiscal year. Pakistan will not be immune to such exposure no matter which economic policies it tries to adopt, with or without the IMF.

The economy is going to continue to be faced with multiple crises unless reforms which redistribute resources and relocate priorities are made. This is not simply about a single political party or the military`s interests in who and what they support. These are collective issues beyond the comprehension of those who make decisions, as the recent remarks by the former finance minister indicate. Whatever else Mr Shaukat Tarin may have said, what was considered most important was his clarification that his government had increased debt to 76pc and not 80pc as had been suggested. Policy has been reduced to bicl(ering between interest groups.

It is foolish to expect the military and civilian elite which has ruled Pakistan in this era of neoliberalism to change their behaviour and priorities after having dominated Pakistan for decades. Both political groups pander to their elite constituents, whether local, national or global, and have ignored the needs and interests of the people in whose name they rule. No matter how much celebration there is in the numbers around exports, remittances and GDP growth, what matters to people is inflation about which one hears very little other than platitudes by the rich and the elite. The solution they have to this problem is more handouts, more `relief`, more charity. Moreover, giving Pakistan 22 previous programmes, most of which have failed outright or been terminated, also implicates the IMF in creating far more problems than it has been able to solve.

Pakistan`s economy does not need more of the same, yet another IMF rescue pacl(age, the same neoliberal economics, the same rulers. It needs disruption, not business as usual, a new path, radical alternatives, a different politics.• The writer is a political economist and heads the IBA, Karachi. The views are his own and do not represent those of the institution.

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How to deal with heatwaves – 16 Jun 2022

Pakistan is facing record-breaking temperatures and a prolonged heatwave since March this year, leading to a major impact on society, environment, work hours and the economy. The city of Jacobabad in Sindh soared to 50 degrees Celsius – a temperature called unlivable for humans. Pakistan is no stranger to extreme heat which is becoming a new normal, but the current heatwave, with its early beginning, long duration and severity has been worrying scientists.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a heatwave is when the maximum temperature exceeds 45C or the deviation from normal temperature is between 4.5C and 6.5C, while severe heatwave is when the maximum temperature exceeds 47C or the deviation from normal temperature is greater than 6.5C.

In the pre-monsoon period, Pakistan regularly experiences excessively high temperatures, especially in May. However, the hot weather started earlier this year in March and April. Weather and climate researchers are now investigating how this heatwave forms. The primary driver behind this heatwave is climate change which has already resulted in a 2C increase in temperature during the months of March-April-May over the last 40 years in Pakistan. Not only this, the previous three months saw a lack of clouds and rainfall, which may have warmed the surface by 5C. The second cause is the fast-moving river of winds in the upper atmosphere, which affects surface pressure and temperature.

In the previous two heatwave episodes, the jetstream formed a ridge/crest, resulting in high pressure and a heat dome over Pakistan. The third reason is that La Nina has been intensifying trade winds and pushing warm water into Asia over the past two years, resulting in warm temperatures throughout the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, and finally across Pakistan and India.

These extreme weather conditions had been a constant dilemma in Pakistan over the last decade. A study conducted at the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) by Dr Shaukat Ali on future heatwaves over Pakistan using Downscaled Global Climate Models projected a high increase in heatwaves. Due to the influence of climate change, future heatwaves are projected to increase in amplitude (severity) up to 48C, duration (length) eight times, frequency (sum of days of all heatwaves) 10 times and number of heatwaves (events) four times.

According to the WHO, climate change has ongoing health consequences and is expected to cause 250,000 deaths per year between 2030 and 2050, with the financial cost of climate-related health impact ranging from $2 billion to $4 billion by 2030. Heatwaves are more than just uncomfortable – they have serious health risks and trigger public health emergencies. They can cause illness and death, especially in sensitive groups such as infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons who already struggle with medical issues.

Heatwaves are an extreme climatic event which have become more frequent due to human-influenced climate change and global warming. The impact of excessive temperatures on glacier melt was seen in Gilgit-Baltistan by sweeping away a critical highway bridge in flash flooding, which had a terrible impact on the population as many people lost their houses, fruit orchards, and crops. Extreme temperatures also result in unpredictable monsoon rains. Heatwaves have other multiple and cascading impacts on ecosystems, agriculture, water and energy supplies and key sectors of the economy. Extremely hot and dry conditions have affected agriculture, especially wheat production, sowing of cotton and rice due to less water availability and production of mangoes.

Prolonged exposure to excessive heat had other critical knock-on effects – for example, elevated air temperatures lead to increased demand for air conditioning and, therefore, increased electricity generation by power plants, which further intensifies air pollution problems and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Extreme weather events, in particular, are a major source of concern in Pakistan, necessitating not only a dedicated research effort on the part of the scientific community, but also effective communication of that research to policymakers in order to develop timely and effective adaptation strategies to minimize future losses. In this regard, a thorough knowledge of future extreme events is necessary to provide policymakers with reliable facts that can influence effective decision-making and infrastructure development.

It is imperative that we protect ourselves by taking adaptive measures. Pakistan has a well-established heat-health early warning systems and action plans. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has issued an advisory for necessary measures and recommendations for educational institutions/schools on actions to mitigate the effect of extreme heat on students, reduce the frequency of heat-related illness, and support schools to prepare for and manage risks associated with extremely hot weather or heatwave. Likewise, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) has issued a detailed heatwave advisory for the general public, asking individuals to take immediate necessary measures to protect themselves from extreme heat. Coordinated efforts by the Ministry of Climate Change, Ministry of National Health Services, Ministry of National Food Security and Research, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education, NDMS, PDMAs and DDMAs and municipal governments in tackling the present heatwave are well appreciated.

To improve its resilience to future extreme heat events, Pakistan needs to take strides towards sustainable adaptation and mitigation strategies to tackle the adverse impact of heatwaves. Well-coordinated and effective adaptation strategies need to be put in place by developing heat-tolerant crop varieties and animal breeds. The agriculture sector requires major transformations to build resilience, especially water-use efficiency enhancement.

Death and disabilities from such calamities can be prevented or minimized by sensitization of healthcare departments, climate change and environment protection agencies, agriculture and other infrastructure development authorities. Sufficient collaboration and cooperation among these authorities are necessary to ensure consistency towards healthy society.

Cities can incorporate heat island reduction strategies such as green or cool roofs, cool pavements, or increased vegetation and trees into long-term planning efforts to help lower urban temperatures. Such cooling measures help reduce impacts on public health and urban systems from extreme heat events.

Disseminating public awareness through print, electronic and social media, providing heat-proof shelter facilities during the summer, and easing access to public drinking water would help mitigate heatwave fatalities. Reducing outdoor exercise during heat alerts can protect individuals from the adverse effects of extreme heat.

Pakistan was fortunate that this year’s heatwaves were not accompanied by humidity, which could have resulted in a high death toll in the country. Pre-monsoon and monsoon rains are expected to improve conditions, but so far rainfall has been insufficient.

The writers can be reached at: pirshauki@gmail.com

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Public display of chutzpah – 16 Jun 2022

The violation of the Constitution used to be benignly labeled as ‘Doctrine of Necessity’

Growing up in Charsadda, as a young student we liked to repeat a joke everytime we came across any man with a beard who would either drive his car carelessly or indulge in some ridiculous act. The joke was just four Pashto words but the story and history behind those words was common knowledge and so people understood the context everytime we uttered those words, which are Sheikh pa ghalata de. It translates literally as “the bearded one is in the wrong”.

Attaullah Tarar sports a beard and shaves his mustache. Muslim men do this keeping in line with the seriousness and depth of their faith. However, he has indulged in uncouth and irreligious behaviour. Fathers who may have asked their sons and daughters to keep watching and reading news so as to prepare for the CSS exam must have felt very uncomfortable watching this public display of an act, which is usually the stuff of adult entertainment.

There is another Charsadda joke. Whenever any bearded man indulges in some irreligious or immoral behaviour, the oft-repeated joke is that he is exempt from any repercussions because he holds the licence for being ridiculous and immoral, which is an indirect reference to his beard. It was a double-edged sword. One, anything the labeled pious did was right by default. Two, don’t dare criticise the bearded ones as their self-righteous mindset is unstoppable and dangerous. Perhaps this second joke is more relevant here. Because we have kind of forgotten that the same Atta Tarar some weeks ago openly threatened anyone who may dare call him a lota.

Public display of disrespect or profanity toward any faith or God is regarded as blasphemous. The people who adhere to the faith that is targeted by the blasphemy feel humiliated and resentful. One could argue that faith is a sacred as well as a private matter because it is one human’s connection and contract with his Creator. We can disagree with an act of blasphemy but we are not to judge someone’s actions or validity of their faith because that work is reserved for our Creator.

An elected or a government official takes oath of office to protect a document where the rights of the people are enshrined. That is a contract between the official and the state as well as the people. Disgracing the Holy Book is wrong and immoral but that is for the Creator to punish not us because that is a violation of the relationship between man and his Creator. Disgracing the sacred document called the Constitution is a violation of the contract made with the people. Even the Holy Book emphasises on the rights of the people more than on the rights our Creator has over us. It is called Huqooq-ul-ibaad i.e. the rights of the people.

The bearded spokesperson of the Punjab government has openly displayed filthy profanity for the very document, which enshrines the rights the people have over him as a government official. It is not the violation of a specific right but rather the wholesale mockery of whatever rights the people may think they have.

Perhaps, this public display of chutzpah is coming from a greater belief of impunity. This middle finger is not only a mockery of the supposedly sacred document but also an indication of massive support from those who are usually in the business of raising the finger as a third umpire. Speaking of which, there was a lot of noise when Imran Khan some years ago had said that the third umpire had raised his finger. Somehow, there is not much noise at this finger raising as if it is some sort of a halal finger.

The violation of the Constitution used to be benignly labeled as ‘Doctrine of Necessity’. That is obsolete now because now our politicians just middle finger the Constitution. Ah, those good ol’ days!

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Man strangles wife in Taiser Town home – 16 Jun 2022

KARACHI: A woman was killed allegedly by her husband in Surjani Town on Wednesday, according to police.

The woman identified as Haseena, 40, was strangled to death in her home in Taiser Town.

The police, after the initial probe, revealed that she was murdered by her husband, Mohammed Siddig, who was married to another woman as well in Quetta, where he mostly lived.

The couple, police said, often quarrelled with each other, and added that the suspect had come to Karachi after considerable time, killed his wife and escaped along with their three-year-old daughter.

The corpse was shifted to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi to fulfil medico-legal formalities.In another incident, body of an unidentified woman was found from a garbage dump near Shahkar Heights in Sector 4-A, Surjani Town.

Police said that the body bore marks of torture.

The corpse was shifted to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to ascertain the exact cause of her death and identity.

The victim woman appeared to be in mid-40s.

Two suspects shot at, hurt in `encounter` Two suspected robbers were shot at and wounded in an alleged encounter in the Korangi area on Wednesday.

Zaman Town SHO Zahid Lodhi said that the `encounter` took place at Machli Mor where suspects Abbas Ali and Ghulam Husain were arrested in an injured condition, while their three accomplices identified as Haider, Akhter and Hanif man-aged to escape.

Police recovered a 9mm pistol with a loaded magazine and two motorbikes from their custody.

The wounded were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for treatment.

SIU arrests four suspects The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of police carried out a raid on main University Road and arrested four suspects identified as Jinsar Ali, Zulfiqar Ali, Umair and Sadiq Ali.

SIU SSP Arif Aziz described the held suspects as members of a `dangerous gang` involved in murder, encounters, kidnapping and looting people coming out from banks/ATMs.

There were more than 25 cases registered against them at police stations of Karachi, Ghotki and Sukkur.

Four pistols and two motorbikes, including one snatched fromSachal,wererecoveredfromtheir custody.

The SIU has registered four cases againstthe held suspects.

Policeman found shot dead A young policeman was found shot dead inside the Saudabad police headquarters on Wednesday.

Police said that the body of Sajid Rehman, 25, was found on the third floor of the building.

Korangi SSP Faisal Bashir Memon said that an initial probe revealed that Rehman committed suicide by shooting himself from his official weapon. He said he was reportedly emotionally disturbed.

The body was shifted to the JPMC to fulfil medico-legal formalities. Meanwhile, city police chief Javed Odho has taken notice of the incident and appointed DIG-East Muquddus Haider as an inquiry officer to ascertain all possible aspects of the incident.

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Police looking for teacher suspected of raping, killing girl – 16 Jun 2022

TAXILA: A special investigation team (SIT) constituted by Attock police has launched a hunt to trace the main suspect involved in the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl.

The suspect (30) is a native of Kohat and used to teach the holy Quran to children of the area. The victim’s father pointed out in the first information report (FIR) that his daughter had gone for her Quran lesson and went missing from there.

Sources privy to the investigation said the suspect went underground along with his elderly mother soon after the incident. Police collected evidence from the suspect’s rented house where he allegedly washed his blood-stained clothes soon after committing the crime.

The investigation team found out that he was expelled from a mosque for his involvement in immoral activities and had graduated from Darul Uloom Haqqania, Akora Khattak.

A senior medical officer revealed that the victim was subjected to severe torture before she was murdered. When contacted, District Police Officer Umer Salamat confirmed that some of the relatives of the main suspect were taken into custody for interrogation.

Police will arrest him within the next 24 hours after clues about his whereabouts are uncovered and we are intensively working on this case, he added.

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Man commits suicide after killing three over marriage row – 16 Jun 2022

LAHORE: The police on Wednesday finalised the initial inquiry into the murder of four people in a house in Factory Area police precincts.

Those who were allegedly shot dead on Tuesday night included Asif (45), the head of the f amily, his wife Kiran and a f riend Abdul Aziz.

The inquiry report suggested that the suspected killer Rizwan Ali, who committed suicide after murdering the three people, was a nephew of Asif.

Quoting the inquiry report, a police official said Rizwan wanted to marry Asif`s wife and he had off and on threatened his maternal uncle that he would kill him if hedidn`t divorce her. He said Rizwan was unmarried and his proposal had already disturbed the elders of both f amilies.

They had declared the demand of Rizwan `unlawful and against the spirit of religion.

Late on Tuesday, Rizwan came from Faisalabad, his native city, and visited the house of his maternal uncle in Lahore, the official said.

A tailor by profession, Asif was physically challenged and he was running his shop in a portion of his house, the police official said adding that Rizwan again expressed his wish and asked his uncle to divorce his wife.

The issue led to an exchange of arguments between the two, he said adding that Kiran also admon-ished Rizwan for his behaviour.

Following this, he said, Rizwan who was carrying a pistol opened fire and killed the couple, and Asif`s friend Abdul Aziz when he stepped up for help.

The suspect later committed suicide by shooting himself with the same pistol, the police of ficial said adding that Asif was father of two children.

His elder son was settled abroad while the younger one remained safe as he had already gone to the house of his relative in Ichhra.

Further investigation is under way.

SHOT DEAD: A young man allegedly shot dead a teenage girl for refusing his marriage proposal in Raiwind area here on Wednesday.The police said suspect Awais intercepted Rifat, 17, near her residence at Jia Baga, exchanged hot words with her and opened fire, injuring her critically.

The girl was rushed to a local hospital where she breathed her last while the suspect managed to escape.

A police official said Awais was in contact with the girl for the last couple of years and he had proposed her for marriage. The girl conveyed him that she wanted to respect the decision of her parents.

On Wednesday, the suspect took the extreme step when she again refused.

The police sent the body of the girl to the city morgue for autopsy and lodged a murder case against him.

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Five rape incidents in Bahawalnagar in a week – 16 Jun 2022

BAHAWALNAGAR: The Fort Abbas police have registered a case against three men on the charges of raping a divorced woman at gunpoint.

The woman, along with her family, had earlier moved away from her native town after getting rape threats by an influentiallandlord.

Five women including two teenage Hindu sisters and a minor girl have been assaulted in four incidents in the Fort Abbas police jurisdiction within a week.

According to the FIR registered with the Fort Abbas police station, a 22-year-old resident of Chak 185/7R was living with her parents after getting divorce about two years ago. However, the family left the village and migrated to another village 228/9R when suspects started harassing her,it said.

On June 11, the victim`s brothers were working in their fields and she was alone at home when three men barged into her house where one of them rapedher.

They fled brandishing weapons when the victim`s brothers returned on hearing her hue and cry.

The woman was shifted to the THQ hospital from where doctors referred her to the Bahawal Victoria Hospital of Bahawalpur.The indigent family treated the victim at home because they could not bear the travel expenses.

The family decided to approach police after the victim`s condition improved a bit, the FIR said. Police said no arrest had been made in this case so far.

In another case, a resident of Chak 262/HR in his written complaint registered with the Fort Abbas police on June 12 alleged that a youth lured his eight-year-old daughter to a cattle farm on June 8 where he tried to assaulther.

The suspect fled when passersby reached the scene after hearing cries of the girl.

He was arrested a day after the incident. The FIR claimed that notables of the area intervened and stopped the victim`s father from lodging a police complaint.

On June 7, a resident of Liaquat Chowk, Fort Abbas, raped a 25-yearold woman and fled. The suspect was later arrested, police said.

In another such incident, two teenage Hindu sisters of Chak 281/HR were raped by two youths on June 5 when they left their home for some chore.

Notables used their influence to prevent the victims` family from taking police action, however, a case was registered about 36 hours later when the victim`s father approached police.

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Guard held for raping foreign woman in Islamabad – 16 Jun 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Capital City Police have arrested a suspect reportedly involved in raping a foreign woman. The suspect who was the woman’s security guard has been handed over to the police investigation wing, Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, said before the media on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, the IGP said a foreign woman lodged a complaint with the Aabpara police station on June 06, 2022, accusing her security guard of raping her at her house in G-6/4 on midnight of 6-7 June.

The IGP told the media that a police team headed by Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Malik Jamil Zafar, comprising SP City Nosherwan Ali and other officers was constituted, adding that entire operation was placed under the supervision of DIG (Operations) Sohail Zafar Chatha.

“The team using all professional skills, managed to trace the suspect and arrested him after collecting all the evidence from the crime scene and got the victim medically examined,” the IGP maintained. He said the accused Mohammad Safeer who was a security guard with a private security company had confessed to the crime during the preliminary investigation.

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Journalist`s disappearance – 15 Jun 2022

THAT journalist Nafees Naeem`s abduction was a brief one does not dilute the gravity of the crime committed against him. The senior assignment editor of Aaj TV channel was reportedly picked up on Monday afternoon near his Karachi residence by men in plainclothes travelling in a Vigo, a pattern repeated in so many cases of enforced disappearance that it has become a trope. Mr Naeem thankfully returned home safely in the early hours of Tuesday. Relief at this denouement should be accompanied by anger that he and his family had to suffer the ordeal at all and that journalists have once again been conveyed a sinister warning about how easily their fundamental rights can be violated presumably if they do not `toe the line` When it took up the reins of power, the PML-N-led coalition announced it was shutting down any nascent attempts made by the ousted PTI government to establish a single media regulatory body under a draconian law. Imran Khan`s government was perhaps the most hostile to press freedom of all civilian set-ups in the country`s history: journalists were harassed, physically attacked and disappeared, while several lost their jobs because pressure was applied on the media houses that employed them to cut them loose.

Even when video evidence was available aplenty, such as in the cases of Matiullah Jan and Asad Ali Toor in Islamabad, no action was taken to even identify the perpetrators, let alone prosecute them. The findings in the Freedom Network`s latest annual report indicate that the state and its functionaries rank as the `biggest threat actor` targeting media in Pakistan. Another significant finding by the independent media and civil liberties watchdog is that the nation`s capital is `the riskiest and most dangerous place to practise journalism`. The coalition government must ensure that journalists can do their work not having to look over their shoulder constantly. There is also the media protection law, ironically brought in by the PTI dispensation. Mr Naeem`s abduction presents an ideal opportunity to start implementing it.

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Women bear brunt of `climate calamity` in hottest city on earth – 15 Jun 2022

JACOBABAD: Heavily pregnant Sonari toils under the burning sun in fields dotted with bright yellow melons in Jacobabad, which last month became the hottest city on Earth.

Her 17-year-old neighbour Waderi, who gave birth a few weeks ago, is back working in temperatures that can exceed 50 Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), with her newborn lying on a blanket in the shade nearby so she can feed him when he cries.

`When the heat is coming and we`re pregnant, we feel stressed,` said Sonari, who is in her mid-20s.

These women in southernPakistan and millions like them around the world are at the searing edge of climate change.

Pregnant women exposed to heat for prolonged periods of time have a higher risk of suf fering complications, an analysis of 70 studies conducted since the mid-1990s on the issue found.

For every 1 degree Celsius in temperature rise, the number of stillbirths and premature deliveries increases by about 5 per cent, according to the meta-analysis Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University, which was carried out by several research institutions globally and published in the British Medical Journal in September 2020.

Cecilia Sorensen, director of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education at Columbia University, said the unfolding impact of global warming on the health of women was `highly underdocumented`, partly because extreme heat tended to exacerbate other conditions.`We`re not associating health impacts on women and often times it`s because we`re not collecting data on it,` she said. `And often women in poverty are not seeking medical care.` `Heat is a super big deal for pregnant women.` Women are especiallyvulnerable to rising temperatures in poor countries on the frontlines of climate change because many have little choice but to work through their pregnancies and soon after giving birth, according to interviews with more than a dozen femaleresidents in the Jacobabad area as well as half a dozen development and human rights experts.

Further adding to the risks, women in socially conservative Pakistan and many other places typically cook the f amily meals over hot stoves or open fires, often in cramped rooms with no ventilation or cooling.

`If you`re inside cooking next to a hot open fire you have that burden of that heat in addition to the ambient heat which makes things that much more dangerous,` Sorensen added.

Extreme humid heat events South Asia has suf fered unseasonably hot temperatures in recent months. An extreme heatwave that scorched Pakistan and India in April was 30 times more likely to happen due to climate change, according to scientists at World Weather Attribution, an international research collaboration. Global temperatures have risen by about 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.As temperatures continue rising, extreme heatwaves are only expected to increase.

Jacobabad`s roughly 200,000 residents are well aware of their reputation as one of the world`s hottest cities.

`If we go to hell, we`ll take a blanket,` is a common joke told in the area.

Few places are more punishing. Last month, temperatures hit 51 Celsius (124 Fahrenheit) on May 14, which according to local meteorological officials was highly unusual for that time of year. Tropical rains can also conspire with warm winds from the Arabian Sea to drive up humidity later in the year.

The more humid it is, the harder it is for people to cool down via sweating. Such conditions are measured by `wet bulb temperatures`, taken by a thermometer wrapped in a wet cloth.

Wet bulb temperatures of 35C or higher are considered the limit to human survival.

Jacobabad has crossed thatthreshold at least twice since 2010, according to regional weather data. And, globally, such `extreme humid heat events` have more than doubled infrequencyinthelastfour decades, according to a May 2020 study in the journal Science.

Sonari, who is in her 20s, and Waderi work alongside about a dozen other women, several of them pregnant, in the melon fields about 10 km from Jacobabad`s centre.

They begin work each day at 6am with a short afternoon break for housework and cooking before returning to the field to work until sundown. They describe leg pains, fainting episodes and discomfort while breastfeeding.

`It feels like no one sees them, no one cares about them,` aid worker Liza Khan said more broadly about the plight facing many women in Jacobabad and the wider Sindh region which straddles the border of Pakistan and India. -Reuters

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