PAKISTAN’S DROUGHT A JIGSAW PUZZLE

Kabul river is in high floods but drought-like conditions have already hit most parts of the country, affecting Kharif crops. The country’s water scarcity is socially constructed by large farmers engaged in agricultural exports. Military and the Deep State want the exports rather than better water management policies.

Pakistan could face drought in the near future according to experts in Pakistan, who have warned the country that Pakistan will approach the “absolute scarcity” level of water by 2025.

Water Troubles

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) made this grim forecast in a new report which claimed that the country touched the “water stress line” in 1990 before crossing the “water scarcity line” in 2005. An unnamed government official from a south Asian country told media of Pakistan that urgent research is needed to find a solution – but warned that Pakistan has a scarcity of government funds.


Pakistan has the world’s fourth highest rate of water consumption but is dependent on water from its only source – the Indus River basin in India – and the rainfall has been steadily declining, with some experts claiming this is due to climate change.
Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi has an estimated population of a million – but very few people have running water in the city as the land has gradually dried up. This has forced many residents to queue up for hours for supplies to be given to them. Often there have been water riots in the past.

Shamsul Mulk, former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), said, “A Water policy is simply non-existent in Pakistan. Policymakers act like “absentee landlords” over water,” he added. “Because of this absentee landlordism, water has become the property of the landlords and the poor are deprived of their share.”
Experts say that urbanization and unchecked population growth due to Gen Zia’s Islamisation are the main reasons behind the crisis. Others say the issue has been exacerbated by climate change and poor water management.

No funding for Drought studies

Moreover, non-allotment of sufficient funds to any department other than Defence in this year’s budget will reflect very badly on the ground.

Energy sector expert Irfan Choudhry told local media, “Authorities appear to lack the political will to tackle the problem. There are no proper water storage facilities in the country. Pakistan hasn’t built new dams since the 1960s. What we see is political bickering over the issue. The authorities need to act now. We can store water for only 30 days, and it is worrisome.”
Some politicians have warned of “massive corruption” in the water sector with some seeking to profiteer from the scarcity and drought like situations of a vital resource.

Sufficient is not Enough

The Indus River System Authority (IRSA) on 8th June 2018 said, “The river flows had more than tripled to 342,400 cusecs since May 26 when they stood at 108,000 cusecs.” It said, “The Kabul river is now in “high flood” at Nowshera. Therefore, the water shares to states of Sindh and Punjab have been increased significantly. The storage stock has improved to one million acre feet (MAF). Still much below the limit required to avoid drought.


On the other hand, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said, “The country has already suffered taken a severe loss and calls for “an immediate water management strategy (by all the stakeholders) to avoid negative impacts of deficit rainfall on water and agriculture in near future”.
“Due to the severe shortfall of rain, drought-like conditions have emerged over the most parts of Pakistan”, said the PMD explaining that moderate-to-severe drought was prevailing in Barani areas of Punjab, lower KP, South Punjab, southwest Baluchistan and southeast Sindh.
On the other hand, the dry condition was observed in southern parts of the country during the past five months. “This dry condition caused water stress in areas dependant on agricultural economy in the country that demands availability of more supplementary irrigation water for Kharif crops”, the PMD said.

Low in Stock to beat Drought

PMD report also added, “The water availability in major reservoirs is already low, however, the water situation in major dams would improve with an increase in temperature. On the other hand, small dams situated near Islamabad are at critical level and groundwater boring and well become dry up to the depth of 150 feet in most areas of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. All these indicate that drought is upon Pakistan.”

The PMD said, “During this year’s winter months of January – March received negative 62percent well below normal rainfall whereas April – May witnessed negative 9.9pc while average January to May noted 45pc of the normal rainfall over Pakistan.”
The IRSA said, “The temperature at Skardu was recorded at 30 degrees Celsius on Friday which was slightly lower than Thursday but even these temperatures were sufficient to intensify the snow melting process in catchments inside India. As a result, river inflows have further increased from 342,400 cusecs on Friday to 356,300 cusecs The outflows were increased from 277,700 cusecs or 31,100 cusecs higher than a day before which is much below the required values.

The report indicates, “The storage in dams have increased from 0.850 MAF to 1.036 MAF. River Kabul was in high flood on Friday with its flows recorded at 91,000cs at Nowshera. As a result, provincial shares of Punjab’s share was increased from 100,200 cusecs to 107,000 cusecs while Sindh’s share was increased to 110,000 cusecs from 90,000 cusecs.

Nothing for Kharif

Kharif cropping season starts from April-June and lasts until October-December in different parts of Pakistan. Rice, sugarcane, cotton, maize and mash are some of the key crops of the season which consume most of the water. There will be severe shortfall of water for this season.

Blaming India for impending Drought

Deep State and Pakistan Army think tanks blame India for the water crisis and claim that New Delhi is failing to uphold the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) brokered by the World Bank in 1960 which regulates control of the rivers between the two nations. Pakistan already lost the case on Kishanganga project in International Court of Arbitration. Recently even World Bank refused Pakistan’s Claim on misconduct by India and advised that Pakistan should not pursue its case in International Forums as its losing its credibility.
Deep State and Pakistan Army have been scouting the world against India and making enemies with its western neighbor just to get water. India, on the other hand, has always the upper hand as recognized by World Bank. India signed the IWT in 1960 as a goodwill to ward off any threat from Pakistan. However, Pakistan has waged two wars, three skirmishes and played as a continuous terror instigator in Punjab and Kashmir. This has given India to look for ways to get out of IWT. Already the day India chooses to use its complete quota Pakistan is doomed and will dry up.
Pakistan’s Deep State and Military top brass have to figure out that Indian strong hand which they have not included in their calculations dill date. By cultivating politicians in India, decision makers, and think tanks by various means the dry days will not be postponed beyond 2020. Already Kishanganga has made Neelum valley project redundant as there will not be much water to drive it. India already has set the ball rolling for withdrawing from IWT due to hostile nature of Pakistan towards it.
With no money to fund more research because Military has starved country of all the funds with its terror policies. No fruitful study so far has been undertaken to understand the impact of climate change and fast-growing population. Drought is imminent and certain. Gen Zia must not have thought his Islamisation of Pakistan will consolidate military power in Pakistan but never visualized the other silent dangers lurking within it.
Political players in Pakistan will have to buckle up for a major dry spell in a few years from now which might transform Pakistan’s agricultural society into a desert society. The impending drought is avoidable with friendly gestures towards neighbors like Afghanistan and India rather than taking up hostility with them.

11 June 2018/Monday                                                                           Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi