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An Alarming Water Crisis: Will Pakistan Have No Water in 2025?

Michael Samuel

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God has bestowed Pakistan with many blessings such as all seasons, glaciers, hill stations, mountains, seas, oceans and many more then what is the reason that Pakistan is briskly running out of water and water shortage has become a problem of our lives?

There are plenty of water resources for Pakistan such as glaciers, monsoon rainfall, subsoil water, lakes (Keenjhar, Saiful Maluk, Manchar, etc.), Arabian Sea is also connected to the shore of Karachi, etc. But still, Pakistan is becoming a water-stressed country. Why? Pakistan is a country, where glaciers melt from the very top and all water from the melted glaciers directly fall into the seas and get wasted. Water is something which is used for daily human consumption also in livestock, power generation, agriculture, water sports, etc. But unfortunately, the country is unable to save water and now an alarming red light has been turned on for Pakistan that it will face a water crisis in 2025.

Pakistan’s history in water, (IWT)

Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is a water dispensing treaty between Pakistan and India. Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was signed by the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan General Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960. According to the terms and conditions of this agreement, out of 6 rivers right of three rivers the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million-acre-feet (MAF) were given to India and right of three rivers the Indus river also known as Sindh River, the Chenab and the Jhelum river with the mean flow of 80 million-acre-feet (MAF) were given to Pakistan.

Though Pakistan has three major rivers and other water sources to fulfill its needs but last year on September 15, 2017, it was alerted by some experts that Pakistan could face mass drought by 2025 as water level nears “absolute scarcity.” The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) made a forecast which claimed that country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the water of the Indus River is the best drinking water but the country is destroying it.

Main failures behind this

There might be bunch of failures behind this problem but some of the major failures behind this chaos are that, there are no new dams and reservoirs in Pakistan since the 1960’s to save this surplus water due to which all water gets wasted, an eminent increase in population is becoming a great threat in water depletion, climate change is another factor, water consumption habits, there are no proper water storage facilities and has poor water management, authorities lack the political will to tackle the problem, massive corruption in water sector to profit themselves, always more concerned about blaming India for the breach of an agreement of IWT (1960) that India has stopped water instead focusing on their own weakness.

If we see neighbor countries, for example by comparing Pakistan with India, India has constructed 3200 dams and reservoirs to save water for future needs whereas in Pakistan we have only 150 dams and reservoirs. The two major dams in Pakistan, Mangla Dam and Tarbela Dam which are the only sources for the country for irrigation, flood control and power generation were constructed during the regime of General Ayub Khan after that even a single dam or reservoir has not been constructed. Pakistan’s largest canal system known as Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) which supports the irrigational system till date was also dug up during General Ayub Khan’s regime. There is a myth that only Tarbela dam alone is enough to fulfill the needs and energy of Pakistan which we need to understand is totally wrong. If Tarbela Dam alone is enough for everything, then energy shortage problem and destruction by 2010 flood would never have happened.

By connecting it to the flood of late July 2010, which resulted from heavy monsoon rainfall due to which about 20 million people were affected badly with a death toll of close to 2000. Pakistan had to face an estimated loss of $43 billion worth of property due to the flood and agriculture sector was also heavily and badly affected and by putting other things aside only cotton bales of worth $2 million were destroyed. Pakistan’s Kharif crops have already declined 42%. Country’s per capita water availability has already reduced from 5000 cubic meters per year to around 1000 cubic meters per year. If we had made new dams or reservoirs, flood water would have diverted towards them and that water could be used in power generation but as mentioned before no dams have been constructed since 1960’s till date and due to the poor strategy of government institutions, the country had to go through a huge loss. At that time even two major dams of the country were not enough to tackle that disaster.

Cape Town, capital of South Africa faced a drought in 2015 resulting in a severe water shortage in the region mostly affecting commercial agriculture. In early 2018, dams were predicted to decline even more at critically low level due to which government then started a campaign and announced plans for “Day Zero.” A day when there will be no water left even a single drop. The city has reduced its daily water usage by complying on to this plan which helped in increasing the level of six major dams up to 65%. Though it was announced that “Day Zero” was unlikely for 2019, but still water restrictions will remain in place until dam levels reach 85%. Just because Cape town is a civilized city that’s why it became an important headline to the whole world. But Karachi is suffering from this problem for 6 to 7 years but unluckily we haven’t heard a single news of it except news by Pakistan’s own news channels. First of all, masses of Karachi do not get any water and we are not talking about clean water or dirty water right now but somehow if they are able to find water they do not know whether it is safe or unsafe for their health. On April 26, 1990, there came a news that Cape town city will run out of the water but government at that time did not carry out emergency measures to curb this problem and now they are struggling to overcome this problem. Right now, Pakistan is also passing through the same situation due to the poor strategy of government institutions, poor distribution of water, disorganized policies and ranks 3rd among countries who are facing water shortage whereas ranks 6 in the list of countries by population and has been ranked at 4th in water consumption but dependent on single source of water that is Indus River Basin in India. According to UNICEF’s report, clean drinking water is not available to 50% of schools and school going children. If the country does not use water carefully, not only will the availability of agricultural products be affected but the country will also be deprived of drinking water.

Measures to curb this problem

The first and foremost thing is that people of the country should not start blame game on government that, this is all due to their dereliction but to start conserving water as much as they can on their own because if one knows about his rights at the same time he must be aware of his obligations also. Stop wasting water extravagantly. Water desalination plants must be installed. Revamp drainage system and recycle wasted water to make it able for reuse. The government of Pakistan must have to make proper and effective policies on an emergency basis and a plan for efficient water distribution and water management for the whole country. Must construct small dams like Iran do instead of big dams which takes time for completion. If this situation persists, it is confirmed that no one can save Pakistan and the country will be doomed for sure. People need to understand that their personal disputes on Kalabagh dam will lead the country to devastation and this problem in the future will become inevitable. So, it is important that they should put their personal interests aside and start working mutually in the construction of the Kalabagh dam. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar’s initiative for Diamer Bhasha Dam and Mohmand Dam to curb water crisis is of great importance at this time. Both Kalabagh Dam and Diamer Bhasha Dam have the ability to produce 8000MV of energy this means 4000MV by Kalabagh Dam and 4000MV by Diamer Bhasha Dam. If both dams are constructed, then the energy shortage issue prevailing in the country will also be solved along with water shortage. This project should be the main priority for the new government in order to minimize water crisis.

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South Asia

India’s Constitutional Revocation and Prevalent Security Environment of Kashmir

Haris Bilal Malik

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During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first ever visit to the US on July 23, 2019, President Trump had offered to mediate the outstanding Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. This move was greatly appreciated by Pakistan with President Trump publicly stating that Prime Minster Modi had requested him to mediate between the two countries over Kashmir during the sidelines of 2019 G20 Summit held in Osaka in June this year. With President Trump’s offer to mediate at such a crucial time, the issue has once again achieved global significance. Moreover, President Trump’s mediation offers, and India’s recent move constitutionally revoke the special status offered to Kashmir would likely have serious implications within the prevalent security environment throughout the region. 

India has often rejected such offers claiming Kashmir as its internal matter. Taking a step forward, on August 5, 2019 the government of India revoked the special status of the Kashmir region that has been previously granted under Articles 370 and 35(A) of the Indian constitution through a presidential order. Referred to as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill that was later approved by parliament despite the opposition’s criticism. Under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution the Kashmir region had been awarded special constitutional rights and a ‘so-called’ autonomous status of decision making. Following the abrogation of Article 370, the Kashmir region would be divided into two ‘Union Territories’ i.e. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh governed by the Indian central government.

The timing of this constitutional abrogation might have been influenced by President Trump’s offer of mediation between India and Pakistan that was reiterated by the US President despite India’s rejection. This abrogation was also part of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto as promised by Prime Minister Modi during the 2019 general election. By fulfilling this electoral promise, Mr. Modi is trying to assert that Kashmir is entirely an internal matter for India and that it would not allow any third country to interfere in the Kashmir issue irrespective of its relations with India.

Based on this notion India is inclined to project this political and constitutional change as its internal matter. By revoking the special status of this disputed region, India also intends to change the demography of Kashmir as much of the current population is Muslim. India has been involved in various tactics to change the demographic structure of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) which includes a steady stream of Hindu migrants relocating and settling in masse from other parts of India in this predominantly Muslim region.

This trend is also evident in the region’s population numbers. In 1947 for instance, the Muslim population of IOK was about 79 per cent. As of 2018 this figure has been reduced to 68 per cent. In this regard the abrogation of Article 35(A) would likely intensify this trend as in the future, non-residents of Kashmir would be able to purchase property in Kashmir and would become permanent residents with a right to vote. 

The security environment of Kashmir has been at stake in recent years due to India’s desire to oppress the freedom movement militarily. During Prime Minister Modi’s first term from 2014-2019 the Kashmiri freedom struggle has seen greater military suppression, especially since 2016 when a prominent freedom fighter Burhan Wani had been brutally assassinated. However, it seems that India has still not succeeded in achieving its desired objectives. After a landslide victory in the 2019 elections and with Mr. Modi once again in office as Prime Minster, the military suppression of the freedom movement in Kashmir has further intensified. Recently, India has deployed an additional 38,000 paramilitary troops in the region to join more than half a million troops and paramilitary forces already present. Along with this increased military presence in Kashmir, India has also been involved in continued aggression across the Line of Control (LoC) as evident by its use of prohibited ‘cluster bombs’ against the civilian population. These could have seriously provoked Pakistan to respond in an offensive way and might have resulted in another February 2019 episode.

At the present, Indian aggression along the LoC poses a major threat to peace in the region. India might believe that it could carry out a limited attack or ‘surgical strike’ against Pakistan which would stay below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold as evident from the February 2019 military engagement and the recent attacks along the LoC. India has repeatedly attempted to dominate the escalation ladder as was shown in the recent escalation instance the recent escalation following the Pulwama attack. Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned about the possibility of a ‘false-flag operation’ in Kashmir carried out by India for which Pakistan might be blamed. Based on such blame India could launch a limited attack or a low intensity conflict across the LoC. Consequently, Pakistan would be left with no choice but to respond in kind to any such aggression by India.

India’s abrogation of Kashmir’s special constitutional status and its military offensive in Kashmir could trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan within a year. India’s policy to forcefully make Kashmir an integral part of the Indian Union by annexing it through political and military means would serve a very dangerous precedent which would likely pose as a serious detriment towards the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This change in the constitutional status of Kashmir would greatly limit the prospects for third-party mediation in the future especially for the United Nations, whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future. Unfortunately, the prevalent security environment in Kashmir is dominated by India’s aggressive behavior which ultimately would have long lasting implications for strategic stability throughout the South Asian region.

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China- Pakistan: Centaur of Friendship

Sabah Aslam

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China has been always quotes as an all-weather ally to Pakistan. This mark is not been achieved in a day. Pakistan and China have always been close companions to each other whether its diplomatic or economic fronts. The “deeper than oceans” bond was initiated in 1951 when Pakistan was on the list of first countries who had recognized People’s Republic of China after it officially ended its ties with Taiwan, officially known as Republic of China. Ever since the two countries have actually proven themselves to be iron brothers. Whether it is socio-economic sphere or any issue of national, regional or global importance, the two have stood by each other through thick and thin.

This bond was further strengthened after Beijing launched its Belt and Road Initiative with China Pakistan Economic Corridor as its flagship project. CPEC had been no less than a soothing drug to the maltreated economy of Pakistan. China provided Pakistan with the much needed co-operation specifically in the areas of power generation and infrastructural development. Whereas Pakistan provided China with an alternative route for its trade across the globe that was shorter and beneficial from all aspects.

However, this resolve to cooperate is not limited to bilateral level. China has always supported Pakistan on issues of regional and global importance. This was even acknowledged by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on BRF this year too. He said, “I want to thank China and its leadership for their unwavering support for Pakistan.”

During the recent scenario where India unilaterally scraped article 370 and had illegitimately taken Kashmir under Delhi’s control directly, it was China who rendered its full support to Pakistan’s stance. According to a report of China Daily, China strongly opposes the Indian act of inclusion of Kashmir. China has also urged India to act in accordance with the bilateral ties with Pakistan and with China on the issues of administrative jurisdiction. 

Nevertheless China had also assisted Pakistan in internationalizing the issue of Kashmir, rebuking India that it is not an “internal matter”. China had backed Pakistan’s request for holding a UN Security Council’s meeting to resolve the matter.  The South China Morning Post, called Kashmir “a flashpoint in ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbors”.

Considering the volatile situation, UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Friday, August 16, 2019 with Kashmir Issue as the only agenda point. The meeting was called specifically for Kashmir for the first time after 1965. Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Jun later spoke to media and once again urged the two-parties to refrain from taking any unilateral action that can aggravate the situation and take measures to solve the issue in lines with the UN resolutions.

In 2018, Donald Trump had tweeted threateningly where he accused Pakistan of “nothing but lies and deceit” and fooling US leaders. Trump also announced that he would not provide any further aid to Pakistan. China once again came out to stand for its strategic partner. China urged the global community that the world should acknowledge Pakistan’s “outstanding contribution” as it has made huge efforts and sacrifices to fight terrorism.

Previously, China had defended Pakistan despite the rage, which the decision had received. In March this year, India had requested UNSC to brand Masood Azhar, the leader of an organization already banned by Pakistan, as a global terrorist. The move was vetoed by China, China’s Foreign Minister said that they need more time and decided to put a technical hold. 

China had also stood by Pakistan when back in 2015 it supported Pakistan’s engagement with Nuclear Suppliers Group and expressed hopes for Pakistan’s attainment of membership. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying had replied to a reporter regarding Pakistan’s aspirations for NSG saying China wished to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan.

Despite the fact that in international relations there are not permanent friends but the bond which Beijing and Islamabad shares has turned the caps. This bond without any doubt is based primarily on mutual benefit and respect but there is more to it too. China supports Pakistan and had supported Pakistan even in times of despair. It took decades long cultural, diplomatic and economic understanding to carve this centaur of friendship between both nations. Islamabad needs to enhance its diplomatic understanding with Beijing as recent diplomatic bustle over Kashmir clearly showed the allies.

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Kashmir Once Again Playing out as Diplomatic Theatre at the United Nations

M Waqas Jan

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Friday’s closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Jammu and Kashmir marked the first time in over 50 years since the issue was discussed at the world’s foremost diplomatic forum. This issue which has long remained at the center of India Pakistan tensions recently received fresh impetus following India’s unilateral decision to withdraw the special status awarded to the region. This was followed by a widespread clampdown in the form of an indefinite curfew as well as a media and communications blackout that is currently in its second week.

Consequently, the above mentioned UNSC meeting on Kashmir forms a key component of Pakistan’s diplomatic offensive following India’s actions. As such, it represents a highly interesting case of diplomatic theatre where the anticipation of possibly resolving or bringing about at least some semblance of positivity to a long-festering conflict has generated considerable interest the world over. This includes interest from both the international media as well as several observers and diplomats as a possible precedent for a consensus driven approach to conflict resolution in general.

However, the lack of any meaningful outcome or even a joint statement directly arising out of this meeting has led to an almost perverse battle of sorts over optics and narrative between key stakeholders, which aims to leverage the UN’s significance as a platform for international consensus. Especially with a view towards placating an international audience’s expectations of what is just or right, the absence of a joint statement following this meeting has led to a vacuum that has resulted in even greater discord regarding this issue. Thus, instead of a collective decision or stance taken on the issue by the UNSCC, what was instead witnessed was China and Pakistan presenting their cases for international mediation at one end, and India insisting on the issue remaining an internal matter at the other.  This for instance was clear in the press statements given by each of these countries’ representatives following the end of the UNSC meeting.

Against a backdrop of the UN Security Council and speaking in a microphone carrying the white on blue letters of the ‘UN’, Chinese ambassador Zhang Jun was the first to state that all the UNSC members were gravely concerned at the human rights situation in Kashmir and that there was general agreement that all parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might aggravate the situation further. He went on to state that as per China’s stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the status of Kashmir was still undecided and that it should be resolved via peaceful means in accordance with the UN charter, the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions as well as the bilateral resolutions pertaining to it.

Pakistan’s representative to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi whose remarks closely followed the Chinese Ambassador thanked China for lending assistance in her country’s request for calling the UNSC meeting. She pointed out that the fact that the meeting was held was itself a major diplomatic victory and that the voice of the Kashmiri people, despite all attempts to silence it was heard at the world’s highest diplomatic forum. She stated that this meeting was the first step taken as part of a protracted and drawn out struggle for justice for the Kashmiri people which Pakistan remained fully and vociferously committed to.

Considering how both the Chinese and Pakistani ambassadors while speaking in quick succession nearly echoed each other’s policy stances on this issue, it was as if they might as well have written each other’s statements themselves. Many observers in the media had later pointed out that the statement given by the Chinese ambassador was in fact a version of a potential joint statement that was to be ideally given by the president of the UNSC. However, since other P5 members had raised reservations regarding its wording and assumptions of the UN’s role in mediating the conflict, it was presented instead by Ambassador Jung as China’s position on the matter, to which Ambassador Lodhi had voiced her approval. 

Both their stances however stood poles apart from the statement given by India’s permanent representative to the UN, Mr. Syed Akbaruddin. Given after a brief interlude to the previous two statements, Mr. Akbaruddin explained how following China and Pakistan’s statements he was self-admittedly compelled to present his own country’s stance on the matter. The gist of it was that India’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status was wholly an internal matter. That it remained committed to resolving its issues with other countries bilaterally and that it was saddened by Pakistan’s approach of using violent jihad and terrorism as a precursor to any potential negotiations. In a characteristic show of one-upmanship that has remained a hallmark of India and Pakistan’s interactions at the UN, Mr. Akbaruddin also made a flamboyant point of taking questions from Pakistani journalists with whom he at one point even came forward and shook hands with as a gesture of his country’s willingness to engage with Pakistan. All while repeating India’s decade old stance that Pakistan stop terror in order to initiate talks.

Yet, considering the stage, setting and timing of the situation at hand, what the audience of journalists was in the end left with was a shrewd and knowing diplomat presenting a clear denial of the spirit of the UN. While employing his best smoke and mirrors it was evident that the press conference was being used by Mr. Akbaruddin as an opportunity to distract, disguise and deflect international opinion from the issue at hand. In essence, it presented another example of one of the many slick PR driven spectacles that are passed on for diplomacy at the UN these days. Yet, considering the lack of unity from the UNSC, and China and Pakistan having already attempted to leverage the stage and setting, can one really blame him?

For an organization that once embodied upholding the ideals of peace, justice and equality as its very raison d’être, it is extremely disappointing to see the UN’s own inaction and passivity reducing it to being nothing more than mere spectacle. Especially during a time where the world is increasingly plagued by strife and discord, seeing Kashmir being reduced to just another metaphor for such issues speaks volumes of the lack of direction and principles guiding global leadership in our world today.

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