A View On Current Water Crises

Earth, revered as a blue planet, is believed to be the only
planet in the entire solar system that constitutes life. This intriguing
feature of life that our earth is capable of and what makes it unique and
distinct from rest of its counter-parts- i.e other planets- is ascribed to its
endowment of water reserves. Hence it is water that makes life possible here
and act as its building block. Pakistan virtually being a small mini planet as
it has been inhabiting and supporting lives of approximately 180 million
cohorts of people having varying lifestyles, ambitions, demographics, languages
and races now appears to be on the verge of losing its life fostering status as
it is being stranded and terribly mired in a tortuous tangle of water crisis.
While myriad of reasons ranging from internal to external and then
environmental have been cited which are deemed to bring Pakistan’s water
reserves from a state of once efficient to the dire state of alarmingly
deficient levels, however an in-depth introspection of all these internal,
external and environmental factors denude that they seem to have a common root
or a symbiotic connection with multiple facets of National Unity.
Referring to a press released report crafted by World Bank
contended “The availability of water in Pakistan since its independence has
been reduced by 400% and it is expected to retrench further if immediate action
is not taken for preserving existing water reservoirs”. The shrinkage of water
at such pace has impaired almost every sector of the country as they have been
heavily reliant upon it. This plight of water scarcity soon escalated in to
crisis when it plunged down below the threshold limit of countries net water requirement.
As Pakistan’s political system has endured intermittent
Military intervention, it is not able to reap the fruits of democracy that
guarantees National Unity by strengthening and integrating its all federating
units rather such occupation shattered its very foundation through excessive
centralization and alienation of one or more federating units. The
destabilization of democratic system and the imposition of dictatorial rules
impeded any reform at policy, planning and implementation level that could have
prevented water resources from the dead-end brink of crisis. The end result is
the crisis of water that has now begun to threaten country’s national integrity
as well as its energy, food and national security.
Pakistan being the fifth most populous country is now on its
way to become the fourth most populated country of the world as its population
has been rising at an annual rate of 2%. Whereas no other significant proactive
and preventive arrangement has been undertaken by ruling elites to manage and
oversee such massive influx of new comers in its social fabric, this population
surge has aggravated the already neglected water sector by drawing more water
from the depleting reservoirs besides crippling its natural recharge system.
Due to the limited carrying capacity of the water reserves the country ended up
in infringing its per capita availability of water to compensate the new
comers. Moreover as no other water pricing mechanism and its effective
regulatory and management system has been put in place to conserve and recycle
the available water, this valuable reserve becomes wasted bringing pollution,
diseases and disasters hence adding more problems to already swarming country’s
problem cart. However this picture of gloom could have been the glimpse of
opportunities if a holistic approach was adopted through building consensus,
coordination and political will that would subsequently target the palpable and
subtle factors will be presumed to be the primary causes of water crisis.
Unfortunately no progress was able to make it possible owing to the lack of
unanimity of national and provincial political elite at legislative and
executive tiers that could have open the eyes of the bureaucratic and
governance machinery from its deep slumbers and draw their immediate
intervention to introduce, develop and enforce strategies that would have
stymied water from teetering in to crisis through managing its abruptly grown
population and advanced policy initiatives to curb water pollution and recycle
water for its main water national grid alongside increasing its grid capacity
to ensure its maximum storage for preventing any natural or foreign incurred
disasters such as flood.
The International monetary fund has ranked Pakistan’s
economy as one of the most water stressed economy of the world owing to its
high water consumption per capita of GDP output. While Pakistan’s land
constitutes vast proportion of arable land, its geographical location at the
temperate zone makes that arable land arid or semi-arid land leaving it
substantially dependent upon either monsoon rain system or irrigation channels
that supplies water from natural river streams to the agricultural areas.
Another bane of water crisis emanates from the deterioration or personified
manipulation of the afore mentioned arrangement that not only will provide
water to our system but is also meant to store, maintain and supply that water
to their required destination producing the necessary agri-output to ensure our
food security and support our economy. As Pakistan agricultural research
council in its research gazette highlighted Pakistan’s agriculture sector
potential which not only contributes 22% of its net GDP and but also
accommodates 41% of its human resource (labour force) besides leveraging a lion’s
share in its total exports, yet it further lamented the global environmental
changes as evident in our changing monsoon pattern and increasing frequency and
intensification of climatic events reflected in 
the form of drought, flood and hurricanes in conjunction with our
resultant failure to reinforce policies of adaptation and mitigation strategies
have severely affected the entire agriculture sector as our outdated water
infrastructure and management system is not capable enough to adjust itself with
the encompassing changes. This dismal situation has added future dimensions to
water crisis when state adopted indifferent attitude and did not launch any
substantial corrective measures that could have attenuated the twilight
situation and strengthened its system capacity to increase its water security
against the backdrop of these vagaries.
The element of national unity is an undeniable factor that
led to such state apathy towards water crisis as it was not able to muster
sufficient political support and will from all the stakeholders involved
ranging from political parties to civil society and landlords having stakes and
interest in the given arrangement. The perpetual state of denial and political
impasse strangulated much needed following substantive reforms such as
overhauling the whole water regulatory managemental and institutional
framework; Documenting and taxing agriculture sector; Incorporating
internationally recognized adaptation and mitigation techniques to conserve
water; Revamping the existing irrigation network by strengthening its enclosing
embankments, dykes and increasing its channel capacity by removing accrued silt
deposits; Introduction of spate irrigation techniques that store flood water as
a backup to be used in dry season; and promoting crop per drop techniques that
lowers water consumption, increase crop productivity and provide crop varieties
which are not only resistant to heat shocks but also less prone to pest and
The renowned Diplomat Muneer Akram in his editorial once
remarked that Asia is home to 60% percent of the world population and it
generates 2/3 of the world output, it would be a centre of geopolitics and
focal of power as Europe was 200 years ago. Moreover he predicted that as Asian
development bank has regarded South Asia as the most water stressed region of
the world, the world is more likely to witness conflicts among South Asian
states in their quest for capturing maximum share of water from the floundering
water reservoirs.
The long-stalled dispute and three intermittent wars between
Pakistan and India over Kashmir owing to its geostrategic location as it
contains water main hydrants besides being the main conduit from where the
water goes to elsewhere including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and to some parts
of Afghanistan, also manifest the potential of water to trigger any future
conflict between regional states. Moreover if any war or conflict occurred, it
would be more deadly and costly from the previous ones as South Asian states
have now equipped themselves with nuclear weapons and missiles. Adding insult
to the injury, this tumultuous situation has been more compounded by the
devastating effects of climate change which is affecting the entire region’s
topography, reliefs and eco system as the region is home to two major states
India and China which are the world dominant emitters of carbon today. The
routine violation of Indus water treaty on part of India either by choking or
flooding western water streams that is the primary water source of Pakistan
either- through construction of Kishanganga Dam and Tulbul Navigation project
or by releasing more water in to it during monsoon seasons without any prior
warming and notification- also lends credence to the lingering spectre of any
future conventional war over water in the years to come.
India’s Machiavellian designs to secure Indus river basin by
using water as a non-conventional weapon-tool against Pakistan have been
facilitated by our own imprudent, irrational and politically expedient
policies. Given western river stream cardinal role in sustaining our food,
maintaining food and agri output , ensuring production of cheap electricity and
by providing the necessary amount of water to keep the every small and large
industrial engine mobile and flip our failure to install adequate arrangement
and develop national responses at domestic and foreign level to fortify our
national security  that could thwart such
Indian subversive activities providing another leverage to India in its vicious
plot to overwhelm Pakistan by dint of such non-military or non-kinetic means.
While identifying domestic and foreign reciprocated measures
which could serve as a pragmatic recourse. At Domestic level: Revamping and
expanding our existing water physical infrastructure by increasing our
reservoirs’ capacity and building more small and medium size reservoirs to cope
with the problem of water overflows allegedly released by India during monsoon
season; Resolve Inter-provincial disputes pertaining to sharing of water and
dams such as Kalabagh; Revive, Autonomies and de-politicize regulatory body,
IRSA, besides according each federating unit due representation in its entire
policy, planning and decision making processes; Maintain Transparency and
fairness in all ongoing water related projects i.e Neelum-jhelum project and
Diamer-Bhahsa dam project besides ensuring its scheduled completion; Promote
water conservation culture through public, private and civil society
participation and by incentivizing modern methods and technologies which
conserve water or in any way lowers water consumption in the given process
either of domestic, agricultural or industrial nature. At foreign level: To
secure international support against India for resolving the Kashmir dispute
through robust and offensive diplomatic campaign; Build National consensus over
water related issues to showcase a clear, coherent and congruent unanimous
posture to India against its water aggression doctrines and grave violations of
internationally recognized Indus water treaty; Expose India’s hegemonic
policies of deteriorating the entire Indus river basin’s natural flow system by
developing artificial diversion canals and other navigation channels which is a
breach of international law besides maintaining that such belligerent attitude
towards its immediate neighbours is threatening regional peace and security and
would lead to war if arbitrary intervention is not made by the International
community and its immediate offices i.e United nations, World Bank and
International court of Justice These domestic and external reciprocal
approaches however failed to contextualize and instead perversely aggravated
the very crisis as state as a whole ignored the seminal role of national
integrity in the pursuance of all aforementioned strategies coupled with its
unwillingness to forge national integrity which could have brought all the
federating units together to unify on such national agenda adopted for said
purposes. Moreover if national unity was first inculcated in all such matters
of interest it would have facilitated the state not only in its attempt to
develop policies but also assisted the state in the implementation of that
policy requiring particular course of action and appropriate contribution from
every state stakeholders entailing provinces, civil-society and corporate
sector for fruition. Nevertheless the fact, 18th constitutional amendment has
resituated the federal and parliamentary status of Pakistan through power devolution
and Provincial autonomy consolidation however ill treatment and non-utilization
of Council of common interest forum by all federating units for the resolution
of sub-national disputes specifically with respect to water and its associated
sectors indicates the interdependent nexus of water crisis with the national

The Pakistani nation has been enduring through tough times.
It has been mired in a dire dilemma of water crisis. As popular idioms says
“every crowd has a silver lining” implies that with every difficult situation
there must always exist a way-out too. In national unity lies our way-out plan;
because annals of Nations History revealed that whenever any nation had been
confronted with existential crisis its ultimate strength had always been a
demonstration of national integrity and integration in the face of such crisis.
It has been widely suggested that future wars would be fought over waters even
though our dysfunctional and timorous attitude towards the containment of water
crisis is very dismal but it should spur us to take action besides motivating
our state-ship to adjust its sails with the prevailing storm.

Source: PKKH

1 thought on “A View On Current Water Crises”

  1. Like first and second session This session will be going to be more interesting. PSL made lots of benefits to Pakistan. PSL is providing new and talented players to Pakistan and because of PSL International cricket is back in Pakistan. PSL Points Table

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