Published Date: May 10, 2014
‘Water crisis threat to country’s security’
Like terrorism, water crisis in Pakistan is posing an existential threat to the country’s security, stated a research report by the Jinnah Institute
The report, “Pakistan ‘s Water Discourse:
Attitudes on Water Management Practices”, collated perceptions of a wide range of policy stakeholders on the political economy of water management practices in Pakistan.
According to the report, insufficient water storage capacity has greatly impacted the availability of water, while public debate on developing new infrastructure has stalemated in the recent years.
A majority of respondents have cited the limits of state capacity in addressing water-related challenges, underpinned by inadequate social infrastructure, lack of political consensus and financial constraints as
the major roadblocks.
On the subject of climate change and disaster management, the report found that while government bodies had learnt critical lessons in recent years, early warning systems were still not in place.
Some water experts warned that Pakistan should prepare for an “environmental disaster”, with the country’s seasonal monsoons shifting away from traditional catchment areas toward Afghanistan.
This trend has multiplied the potential for flash floods and erratic rainfall.
water availability per capita has fallen drastically since partition, from approximately 5,000 cubic metres to nearly 1,500 cubic metres, impacting marginalised communities and women the most.
In the absence of progressive water pricing systems, domestic water wastage in cities is rampant.
the subject of trans-boundary water sharing, a majority of interviewees
felt that the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) had stood the test of time and largely served to protect Pakistan’s interests. However, they also expressed a dire need for a framework or treaty with Afghanistan to prevent future conflict between the two countries on the Kabul River.
respondents underscored the need for making accurate and reliable water
data available as well as investing in more efficient methods of agriculture and conservation techniques, including drip irrigation and rain water harvesting.
Speaking at the occasion, Former Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel said that he was distressed to see that a majority of Afghans were not interested in a water treaty with Pakistan.
Environmental lawyer Ahmad Rafay Alam presented the findings of the report.
Former Water and Power Development Authority Chairman Shamsul Mulk suggested that all objections on river flow data between provinces should be taken up in the Council of Common Interests.
Mulk also said that China had built 22,000 large and small dams in the past 50 years, while Pakistan has been unable to move forward on any of its dam projects. The research exercise was undertaken in partnership with UK-based think tank, Chatham House.