Pakistan in Crisis with Aqdas Afzal
Manage episode 344250614 series 2809925
** To donate to the flood relief effort in Pakistan, please visit the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund 2022
How do we unpack a problem like this year’s floods in Pakistan? Where do we place the blame? Steve invited our friend Aqdas Afzal back on the podcast to discuss his recent article, “Collapse of Civilizations.”
The article’s title is a cheeky play on Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations,” which predicted massive conflict between the world’s non-white, non-Christian peoples and the global North. Coincidentally, the countries of the global North have profited quite well from their destruction of the environment, whereas those in the global South bear the brunt – like floods of biblical proportions.
Pakistan’s contribution to carbon emissions is less than 1% yet, when hit by climate catastrophe, the devastation is not only physical, it is economic, it is political. With an economy choked by foreign debt obligations, Pakistan, in the best of times, struggles to meet basic needs.
“Steve, to give you an example, about 40% of Pakistan's federal budget - remember that figure - 40% is now spent on paying interest on external loans that Pakistan has taken over the last 75 years. And this situation not only eats up all the fiscal space that this country has, we cannot spend on health, we cannot spend on education, we don't have enough money to spend on climate mitigation adaptation, on clean drinking water. And the situation is becoming worse by the day. It's a completely unsustainable situation.”
Aqdas and Steve talk about debt jubilee and reparations to address the immediate situation, but the overlapping crises are a direct result of capitalism’s failure to deliver on its promises – not just to Pakistan, but to most of the world – causing strife and division.
Are we proving Samuel Huntington right?
Aqdas Afzal finished his undergraduate and first master’s degree in Political Science from Ohio State University, then returned to his native Pakistan. After working there for five years he won the Fulbright scholarship for his second master’s and PhD in Economics from UMKC. He teaches at Habib University in Karachi and writes a monthly op-ed in Dawn, a leading English language newspaper there.
@AqdasAfzal on Twitter