I left Pakistan in 1994 to work in the UAE. On every subsequent visit back home, I have seen our beloved homeland gradually slip away from the club of developing nations to the begging bowl of under-developed nations. We can find many excuses for our continuous downfall but the one act that deserves no sympathy is our foolish opposition to build the most profitable economic mega dam at the God gifted natural gorge at Kalabagh town on the Indus. Ever since 'dam' has been made a four letter word, 'Conserve' has become the buzz word - conserve water and all will be well. There are no two opinions that conservation of resources is a must, be it water, power or whatever. But please assure me that you can conserve our population growth and I am with you that we can improve our situation just by conservation. But just by conserving water, can we eliminate the need for more reservoirs. It is all a question of supply and demand. Did or did not, Mangla and Tarbela dams improve the supply side. If they did, then why would a third dam also not do so. We can't control the demand side (a direct relation to our vulgar explosion in population), let us at least control the supply side. Once we are past this hurdle, then we can consider why not Kalabagh dam, the only dam that can be built in a comparatively shorter period of time, to come in tandem with Mangla and Tarbela dams while they still have some capacity left. Let us leave aside the apprehensions about Kalabagh dam for the purpose of the 'Conserve or Reserve' debate. That these apprehensions are a mix of politicized thinking and sheer ignorance has been proved many times. Conserving water alone will not increase our contingency reserves which stand at a measly 30 days, putting us at the mercy of Indian designs on our rivers. Conserving water alone will not increase the percentage of river waters being stored, which at 9 percent ranks us 26th among the Asian states, in per capita, per annum availability of water, barely above the water-scarce level of 1000 cubic meters. Conservation of water alone will not overcome the existing 24 percent shortage in water being stored during the surplus Kharif period for use during the lean Rabi period. A transfer, which only dams can accomplish. Conserve water by all means, but also 'Reserve' or "Perish". On his first visit to Pakistan in January 2010, my European business associate, was frustrated to see our apathy towards doing anything to improve our lot. I told him that some of our people oppose building of a dam which can solve our power and food problems for at least another 50 years, he looked at me strangely and nodded his head in disbelief and whispered, "I had only read in history books how nations committed collective suicide due to apathy of the rulers and today I am seeing this with my own eyes and that too in the 21st century". -IJAZ ANWER, Dubai, UAE