ONLY days before the earthquake, an unusually early snowfall cut off large parts of the northern areas from the country, forcing an emergency evacuation of thousands of people.
The last people to be recovered were seven policemen who had been trapped for many days and had to be flown out in an army helicopter on Wednesday.
Parts of Naran were buried under four feet of snow, and, according to officials, this was the earliest snowfall in the area since at least 40 years. This is not the first unusual weather event this year.
Earlier in July, a heavy downpour created flash floods and glacial lake bursts in Chitral valley, leaving a trail of destruction across the district. Unusual weather patterns of this sort are becoming more and more frequent, and almost always hit the mountainous areas the hardest.
Pakistan has enjoyed the blessings of nature since its earliest years. The abundant water flows in our river system and groundwater reservoirs helped fuel an expansion in agriculture that made the country self-sufficient in food in its first 25 years.
They also helped create the first large-scale power generation in the country. Our gas reservoirs have fuelled our industry, breathed life into our power plants, warmed our homes and fired our stoves for decades now and account for almost 50pc of all domestic fuel consumption.
They have largely cushioned us from the vicissitudes of the global oil market. But nature is a fickle mistress, and today, we are hearing warnings that Pakistan is on the front lines of climate change, and it sits in the shadow of the most seismically active fault lines in the world. There is, of course, no relationship between seismicity and climate change.
It would be a good idea for the leadership, as well as opinion makers of every stripe, to wake up to the full spectrum of challenges that climate change presents.
This spectrum runs from the most visible changes that can bring crises such as flooding and heatwaves in their wake to slower and more invisible changes such as the disruption of cropping cycles and agricultural yields.
It is time to heed the warnings being sounded repeatedly around the world that nature’s mood is changing, and the dangers facing Pakistan are enormous. Perhaps it is time to approach these challenges with the same doggedness with which our leadership tapped the bounties of nature back in the 1960s, by making food self-sufficiency a national goal to which all other economic objectives had to be subordinated.
Nothing short of a national effort on the same scale is required today to take stock of the emerging spectrum of challenges and come up with the measures and resources required to face them.
Time is short. The freak occurrences of today will grow to unmanageable proportions soon. We must begin our efforts immediately to prepare for a turbulent tomorrow.