AREA 14/8

Agriculture serves as the backbone for Pakistan’s economy. The Indus River, the country’s only major river system feeds a network of canals that help irrigate the land and enable the country to produce crops such as cotton and wheat which are the mainstay of Pakistan’s exports. Thus, the fact that Pakistan is speeding towards a water crisis is a very dangerous piece of news for Pakistan’s future.

Its glaciers are melting, spells of extreme weather, scanty rainfall and severe flooding present a very dark picture of the future.

The Asian Development Bank describes the country as one of the most ‘water-stressed’ in the world adding that there has been a five-fold drop in water availability since independence. What is even more depressing is that with a water-availability of 1,000 cubic meters per person annually, it is at par with drought-stricken Ethiopia.

The trouble is far from over for Pakistanis as they face crisis after crisis owing as the never-ending saga of governmental mismanagement and complacency continues. The country’s water storage facilities, have for long been criticized for being inadequate but this has rarely inspired action from its political leadership. Pakistan last dam was built more than four decades ago, India on the other hand has been very proactive in building dams and reservoirs: it has already built 4,000 of them and has 150 other projects lined up. It is distressing that while India has one-third of its water supply stored in reservoirs, Pakistan only has less than one-tenth.

It can be said with absolute certainty that most of Pakistan’s problems have sprung out of a governance crisis and the inability of leaders to do their job. With the resource crisis worsening as the population growth rate shows no signs of decreasing, we are headed towards a dark future. The country could become potentially unlivable in the future. Some parts of Pakistan have already begun to show signs of what the future has in store: Tharparkar is one such example. A humanitarian crisis has gripped the region and in a characteristic move, the government washed its hands off all responsibility by calling it a natural catastrophe leaving the people to face the music for believing in the capabilities of their leaders.