As the international community celebrates World Water Day tomorrow, Pakistan remains oblivious to its water stressed situation. The day dates back to 1992 when the United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22 as an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, and take action to make a difference. Pakistan’s water policy on the other hand remains outdated and irrelevant in the face of shifting climate and new hazards and risks.

The government has recently woken up from its reverie and has unveiled plans to introduce a mechanism for charging all types of water use to update water infrastructures. An understanding that water is a necessity that needs to be conserved is important to instill in the ignorant population, that continues to use water without inhibition. This comes as part of the new National Water Policy that will be responsible for protection and provision of water resources and improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. Considering this policy is yet to formulate let alone be implemented, we need to come up with emergency plans to conserve the dwindling water resources that we own.

The Senate has also passed a resolution seeking to ‘revisit’ the Indus Waters Treaty signed in 1960 with India, but has met with opposition at the move. While there is no denying that ‘comprehensive bilateral dialogue’ with India to upgrade the treaty to enable Pakistan get more water for its rivers, is the need of the hour, the timing to bring this up with our counterpart is not favourable. Without a comprehensively formulated policy at our end, asking India to make provisions is a useless and wasteful exercise. Considering that the Himalayan glaciers are melting at an alarming rate due to climate change, we need now more than ever to create more storage capacity for water and manage better existing resources.