ISLAMABAD                -                Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz Thursday observed that Afghanistan’s push to build dams to store and regulate the water is indeed an indirect blow to Pakistan and said that if this shared resource is not mutually regulated through political cooperation, it can lead to a drastic water shortage.

Addressing national conference on water beyond borders, Advisor to the Prime Minister on climate change Malik Amin Aslam said that the Indus water treaty needs to be revisited to account for climate change variability and sharing ground water aquifer. The conference on water beyond borders was organized by non-governmental organization Lead Pakistan and was attended by  parliamentarians, diplomats and water experts.

Addressing national conference on water beyond borders Parliamentarians and experts underscored the need to open diplomatic channels to address water management issues concerning Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

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 have created global water shortage endangering lives of millions.

He said that cooperative relations between water-sharing nations are 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, threaten 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 neutralise external water threats by ensuring adequate water storage within Pakistan.

Shibli 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.

Former Chief Water Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms Naseer Gilani while speaking on the occasion said that there is wrong perception among Pakistani experts that Afghanistan cannot use more than 10 to 15 percent of the water of River Kabul. In my opinion Afghanistan can utilize 80 percent of water from the River Kabul in case they develop their infrastructure. On the other hand he said that Pakistan has not done any work on its side to protect its share of water. In case of India also, he said that while we were sleeping India was building dams and finally we lost the case. In case of River Kabul I will suggest to divert river Kunar in Chitral which will help diverting half of Kabul River’s 8.3 MAF water to irrigate the land in Dir, Swat. For the remaining water from Kabul flowing into Pakistan, we need to construct canal in Nowshera to divert it to southern districts of KP including Kohat.He said that one cusec water of River Kabul is equal to 200 cusecs of other water in Pakistan as it flows in winter.  

Speaking to the audience, Advisor 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 that the Indus water treaty needs to be revisited to account for climate change variability and sharing ground water aquifer.

Senator Usman Kakar said that beside making legal framework for trans border water we also need to resolve the interprovincial water dispute. “As far Afghanistan is concerned I have heard them they have the perception that we want to control their waters,”. We cannot get water from Afghanistan by making war with them, however with friendship we can get every thing.

He said that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have not been given their due share including water distribution. He said the parliament is not even being taken into confidence on this very critical issue.

He said that the water level in some parts of Balochistan has gone down by more than 1500 feet. Around 5000 Karaiz and 5000 natural springs have dried down due to drought. He said that all the less developed areas of the countries, including the one in Punjab,Sindh,KP, entire Balochistan, Fata and GB have been ignored in all the developmental works. He said don’t make policies specifically for one or two provinces but for the entire Pakistan.

Punjab’s irrigation minister Mohsin Leghari stated that total water available is sum of total run off water and stored water. However, due to increasing siltation in dams, the storage is decreasing. This, he added, needs to be addressed to cater water woes.