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January 24, 2020

Water Beyond Borders: Experts stress need for addressing water management issues

National

January 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Senior parliamentarians, diplomats and water experts who gathered here on Thursday underscored the need of opening diplomatic channels for addressing water management issues concerning Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

They expressed these views while participating in a national conference titled “Water beyond borders: Managing Pakistan’s Shared Water Resources”, organised by a non-governmental organisation ‘Lead Pakistan’.

Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz said water was basic human right. However, the population explosion, technological boom, and high demand for water, has created global water shortage endangering lives of millions. He said that cooperative relation between water-sharing nations is also critical to ensure adequate access to water. Shibli said that Afghanistan’s push to build dams to store and regulate the water is indeed an indirect blow to Pakistan. If this shared resource is not mutually regulated through political cooperation, it can lead to a drastic water shortage.

He said that India, despite a treaty, threatened Pakistan by blocking its share of water flowing from its borders. He maintained that it is of course a violation of international law to do so, but in case of any conflict, it is one aspect that we must be aware of and prepare for.

He said that being an agricultural nation with the world’s most interconnected irrigation system; water availability means everything to Pakistan that is the main reason why the government has started the Diamir-Bhasha dam project which will neutralize external water threats by ensuring adequate water storage within Pakistan. Faraz went on saying that Indus Water Treaty is a model treaty and a test case that is working between neighbour countries that are in conflict with each other.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that Pakistan’s challenge is to manage its water resources which are shared. He said, “Indus Water Treaty needs to be revisited to account for climate change variability and sharing ground water aquifer.”

Punjab’s Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari stated that total water available is sum of total runoff water and stored water.