ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is being dragged towards acute water scarcity which is badly hampering agriculture, the mainstay of the country's survival, evaporating potable water and creating energy crisis, however, if scientific and innovative methods are applied effectively it could ensure optimal usage of the available water resources, boost agriculture yield with less labour and lessen many other water-related issues.

These consensus views were expressed by speakers at a one-day seminar organized by the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) to commemorate the 'World Science Day for Peace and Development' here on Tuesday. Title of the seminar was 'Science for Water Cooperation: Sharing Data, Knowledge and Innovations'.

Presiding over the inaugural ceremony of the event, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, a veteran Pakistani scientist and former advisor to prime minister, underscored the importance of the World Science Day for Peace and Development, and reviewed it in its historical perspective. In his keynote address, he called for focusing on water-related issues by the organizations like IIASA, UN, and COMSATS. He recalled that COMSATS had held an extensive discussion session on water issues in 2001 and published the proceedings of the event in a book form. He revealed that Pakistan has the distinction of being the country on whose request, the UN decided to celebrate  Science Day every year.

Earlier, Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Imtinan Elahi Qureshi, while stressing the importance of the title of the Day, Dr. Qureshi gave a broader perspective whereby science has been used both for the betterment of mankind as well as for the purpose of war and destruction. Only the 'lights' of science need to be celebrated while 'shadows' are to be shunned and discouraged.

He also elaborated worldwide focus on freshwater availability and cautioned that Pakistan will face a major destabilizing situation if water management is not addressed at the highest priority.

Dr. Shahid Ahmed Khan, Campus Director, CIIT, Islamabad, welcomed the guests and participants of the seminar and stressed the need for capacity-building events in sensitizing societies and proffering research-based solutions for development issues.  Four technical talks were delivered on the occasion by experts on topics pertaining to Climate Change and Irrigation. Dr. Qamaruz Zaman Chaudhry, Senior Advisor, LEAD Pakistan, explicated the concept of water cooperation and highlighted its importance in the wake of Pakistan's status in terms of water availability declining to a critical level of 1000 m3 per person per year.

Other speakers of the seminar were: Dr. Amir Haider Malik, Professor from CIIT, Abbottabad Campus; Dr. Zulfiqar Ahmad, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Quaid-e-Azam University; and Dr. Hassan Abbas, CIIT, Wah Campus. The speakers advocated efficient use of latest science and technology to enhance per capita water availability in the country. Dr. Abbas introduced a new concept of sub-irrigation that may help Pakistan to save water at least 4 folds, increase agriculture yields by 64 per cent and improve water-use efficiency by 6 folds.