Toxic smog in Pakistan

Toxic smog in Pakistan
Photo Source: M. Arif / White Star


Eleni Patlaka

Pakistan Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence


Over the last decade, Winters in Pakistan are covered in smog, with the situation getting worse and worse every year. Air pollution, caused by gas emissions, burnt crop residues, deforestation, and temperature inversion, has raised the alarm [1].

In October 2023, Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city, was once again covered in toxic smog, marking it as one of the most polluted cities in the world [2]. According to the Air Quality Index (AQI), air levels reached 401 on Tuesday 13 November in the morning. Although progress was made during the day, the situation worsened in the evening and the alert status was restored [1]. The dangerous situation has prompted the government to take measures to protect the citizens. Specifically, the government made masks compulsory [2], while in some provinces it banned traffic and closed schools, markets and parks [3]. It can be understood that the aforementioned measures don’t bring about a profound solution to address the adverse conditions, on the contrary, they create more problems, such as access to education.

Ii’s important to notice that large emissions of polluted air have undermined citizens' rights. In particular, it has been shown to be the cause of many diseases, including respiratory and heart problems [4]. The lives of vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly, are at risk. Every year 128,000 deaths attributed to smog are recorded [5]. Lastly, the quality of life of citizens is increasingly deteriorating, violating the right to a clean environment [4].


Sources and further reading:

[1] Gabol, I. (2023). Lahore grapples with soaring air pollution crisis. [online] DAWN.COM. Available at:  [Accessed 15 Nov. 2023].

[2] Waqar, R.B. | A. (2023). Smog declared ‘calamity’ in Punjab. [online] DAWN.COM. Available at:  [Accessed 15 Nov. 2023].

[3] (n.d.). Smog battle: Punjab schools, offices get holiday on Nov 18. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 15 Nov. 2023].

[4] (2019). Pakistan: Hazardous air puts lives at risk. [online] Available at:

[5] Junaidi, I. (2022). Toxic air kills over 128,000 Pakistanis every year. [online] DAWN.COM. Available at: