After verbal threats of India to suspend Indus Waters Treaty to use water as it sees fit, water management experts in the government once again are compelled to look into the ways to deal with issue of increasing water scarcity in the country. Pakistan is the downstream riparian to India, and is critically dependent on the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, all of which flow through India, for its freshwater resources.
India cannot stop water in a few weeks or months. It takes years to build infrastructure that will stop, reduce or divert water. But the imminent threat provided wake up call to us to take our water resource management more seriously. With rapidly growing population, demand for water is on the rise in Pakistan. According to IMF report, by 2025 Pakistan would require 274 million acre feet (MAF) but it would remain at 191 MAF with shortage of massive 83 MAF to bridge gab of demand and supply. It is considered that Pakistan is already in the list of water-desperate countries, but it will become water scarce by 2025. According to estimation annual water availability per person in Pakistan is just 1,017 cubic metres, if it decreases at 1000 cubic metres, country would stand in the list of water scarce countries.
Currently need of hour is water storage, to do that we need to build every kind of dams small, medium, big ones and everywhere to expand field storage for water. It is irony that no major dams have been constructed in Pakistan since Tarbela in 1976. It is time our policy makers need to step up to sense the gravity of the matter as just anti-India rhetoric would not do the job. Pakistan needs to make itself less vulnerable to India’s water machinations.
Pakistani political leadership must take drastic measures to safeguard precarious water security.