Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on the eve of 7th September for a short while and expressed the severity of water crisis in Pakistan.
PM Khan urged the nation and particularly the overseas Pakistanis to donate money ‘as much as they can’ to build dams. “There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems,” the PM said as he began the address. “We have the debt problem, energy crisis, but the worst is water scarcity,” he added.
PM Khan also mentioned the statistics that in 1947 each Pakistani received a share of 5600 cubic meters of water. “Today that stands at only 1000 cubic meters,” he regretted. He also thanked the Chief Justice of Pakistan for making the nation aware of the water crisis. But, at the same time, Mr. Khan clarified that it was the responsibility of the civilian government to construct dams.
It is important to mention here that the CJ has earlier in June has said that water shortage is now the “top priority” of the court and took a Suo Motu notice of the matter. Justice Sardar Tariq Masood also regretted that none of the political parties had taken the water issue seriously enough to include it in their manifestos. While expressing concern over the dam built on the Kishanganga River by India as part of its Kishanganga hydropower plant project, the chief justice said, “the Neelum River, which is a tributary of the Indian River, has dried up.”
PM Khan appealed to the overseas Pakistanis and said that “if every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves.” He also assured the donors that he [PM] would be responsible to use their money fairly to construct dams. “Contribute generously as you did for Shaukat Khanam Hospital and NAMAL University and I assure you I will protect your fund money”, the PM said.
Some reports prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) have alarmed that the country will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025.
The UN report also highlights that the most immediate threats would be water unavailability to the masses and Neil Buhne, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Pakistan said, “No person in Pakistan, whether from the north with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.”
Moreover, the reports are attributing the crisis to climate change and poor management around the country. Due to lack of attention and political will in Pakistan, there could not be any new dams to manage the country’s water crisis. Experts suggest that this is an alarming situation and Pakistan needs to focus on developing a comprehensive policy mechanism to address the challenge.
It is now expected that after PM Khan’s speech the overseas Pakistanis who are generally PTI’s ideological supporters will send their donations to help Mr. Khan in constructing dams. There is no question about the urgency of water management in the country since experts have suggested that soon Pakistan is going to be a country ‘without water’. The whole nation and SC along with civilian government have to make collective efforts to device a comprehensive water management policy in Pakistan. This is now the overseas Pakistanis’ turn to play their part.