Water scarcity: An imminent disaster to Pakistan’s future
Last week on March, 22 the World Water Day was observed. The purpose of this day is to highlight the importance of freshwater. Countries having sufficient water resources reward the day a blessing and benediction. It shapes country’s welfare, eye_catching development and luxurious economy with enormous accomplishments. However, Pakistan has, since partition, been challenged with political instability and regional menaces for water for a long time.
Pakistan is in a state of quagmire. One would take years to just perceive the philosophy of diplomatic affairs. Here, the lunacy of politics crosses every limit. From ministry seat to feelings of citizens, each and everything is being politicized.
Water 22 scarcity is amongst those issues which is threatening the future of Pakistan and the issue is drastically neglected. The national security, lives of millions of people is at risk but still the elite government does not even bother to look into the matter same like the previous governments.
Water bears innumerable pleasures with itself_ being the most essential component of life, contributes a major part of beauty of nature and portrays the mechanism of country by corroborating the economy.
Nevertheless, the water scarcity has engulfed Pakistan badly, choking the entire country with leaving no ways around for the survival if the policies are further delayed haphazardly. The situation can be presupposed in the light of WEF (World Economic Forum) which already positioned Pakistan among the 36 water stressed countries has now declared Pakistan the third most affected country by the dearth of water on the region. The experts are time and again warning that Pakistan can still survive because it only tagged water_stressed country for now but if continues to overlook this matter, will soon be drafted water_scarce country by 2025.
Water scarcity has become a nightmare scenario for Pakistan. Despite having the world’s largest glaciers, country is hit with calamity of shortage of water. People are compelled to access the limited water which is 80% not appropriate_ containing harmful elements, resulting in water_borne diseases like: diarrhoea, hepatitis, cholera, dehydration, and lungs disorders are the common diseases to be listed.
On the other hand, a large number of people are forced to buy water from tankers mafia on exorbitant prices.
The dramatic reduction of water availability has helped increase the nuisance level ahead. The annual water availability that was nearly 1, 300 cubic metres per capita, fell to 1000 cubic metres per capita. The wake up calls are around the corners if more declined.
In order to grasp the concept of war between Pakistan and India over “Water” let’s jump back into the history.
The partition of sub_continent led to the partition of Punjab that created conundrums over the distribution of (Rivers) water. The two main rivers Ravi and Sutlej were in East Punjab. India shown its tantrum and claimed that it had complete right over these rivers and are originated from Indian territory. On the other side, Pakistan claimed subjecting its economy dependent on that, with respect to the International Law. Then the issue was resolved through “Indus water Treaty” set up by World Bank in 1960. Pakistan gained success over three rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab but at the same time deprived from actual right over the rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. But then again, India started beating a dead horse. Backed out of its promises and assurances and started building barrage named “Wullar Barrage” on Jhelum in its occupied Kashmir. The issue was taken to International Court of Justice and approached to a conclusion that India would only regulate the flow of water and is allowed to build barrage and set some sort of conditions regarding water when to be released or restored.
As the matter of fact, the decision placed in side of India. Currently, India is in the process of building a number of dams on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers both of which originate from Kashmir. The geopolitical entity over Kashmir is really a hard nut to crack!
On the behalf of the matter, the Indian Prime Minister can be seen frequently threatening Pakistan that he will stop the flow of water into Pakistan if the supremacy of neighboring country persists intervening into the issue of Kashmir state.
It is very easy to cast blame on India but Pakistan too shares the complicity at a massive angle on account of water. Our country has proved to be lethargic in case of constructing dams that are undoubtedly lucrative and appear to be the guarantee of prosperous nation. The topic of dams has always been overlooked. This is how the adversity upon water is playing around. Anyhow, Pakistan’s total Dam storage is 30 days. It is indeed horrible! Isn’t it?
Besides, the rapid population growth and urbanization are also forming a huge trouble. According to a UN report, Pakistan is estimated to have a population of 300 million by 2050 causing a threat to sustainability of water resources with the already water deficient state.
Secondly, the inefficient water policy making and lack of proper management of water are more strengthening the deplorable condition in the country. Third, the agricultural sector is untaxed. Astonishingly, more than 90% of water is allocated to that sector. Have we yet been benefited from agriculture sector as being an agricultural country? No, not at all! What’s next, Tarbela, Mangla and Chashma reservoirs have lost about 5 million acre_feet due to sedimentation. Likewise, an estimated 40% of it that runs through Canals is lost because of seepage. Corresponding climate change, the melting glaciers also playing its turn. How can we forget the water logging and salinity welcoming devastation to agriculture. Above all are the major factors augmenting the issues of water crisis in Pakistan.
Concluding with much anticipations, we must leave the habit of throwing indictment to India subjecting it with the word “conspiracy”. Incompetencies of our political leaders will destroy the beautiful land before the conspiracy of neighbouring country. We have to face the music now!
Although the government has played very well in making the situation worse, we the citizens have also not imparted less in creating it deteriorated.
In like manner, Pakistan has the world’s 4th highest rate of water use. If it is not the state of misery then is what?
Pakistan needs to maintain effective laws, policies and work on the implementations in order to curb the situation becoming more severe. Governemnt should build more dams because we can not rely on those destabilized dams anymore. The administration should also inaugurate awareness campaigns about the importance of water. Something which needs to be understood is; government’s work is to just indicate. Acting on those indications is the duty of ours. like, we should use bucket for certain works, avoid wasting excessive water on washing clothes, washing cars, brushing teeth, bathing, shaving and such number of practices. We will surely find a big difference. Government should also regulate water for agriculture as it does not give satisfactory results to the economy of country.
We, as loving and vigorous nation, should come forward along with the support of government to take all the concrete measures to serve the brighter future of Pakistan by saving water.
About Author: Asif Murad is a Karachi based columnist. He writes on socio-political issues and a major area of human rights and ethics.