Pakistan’s cry for water

August 26, 2009

Pakistan is running out of water so fast that the shortage will strangulate all water-based economic activity by 2015, a Pakistani thinktank says.  And that pretty much covers 70 percent of the population  who are involved in farming.

This is not a new warning.  In recent months,  as this blog itself has noted, experts have painted an increasingly bleak scenario of Pakistan’s rivers drying up, the ground water polluted and over-exploited and the whole water infrastructure in a shambles.

But Pakistan, as the Islamabad-based Centre for Research and Security Studies says, is not listening.  Pakistan has gone from a “water scarce” country to a “water-stressed” country, worse than Ethiopia, the Centre says quoting a  2006 World Bank study. In 10 years time, it will become a water-famine country.  

Among the 25 most populous countries, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan are the most water-limited nations, that study said.

According to the World Bank data, Pakistan only stores 30 days of river water, India stores 120 days, while the Colorado river system in the U.S. has storage capacity of up to 900 days of water usage.

The depletion of water resources is unchecked, as the 2009 UN World Water Development Report points out. It says that the total actual renewable water resources in Pakistan decreased from 2,961 cubic metres per capita in 2000 to 1,420 cubic metres in 2005. A more recent study indicates an available supply of water of little more than 1,000 cubic metres per person. 

India and China are not far behind in this plunder of water, with only 1,600 and 2100 cubic metres per person per year. Which as the South Asia  Investor Review points out is itself cause for serious concern, as it raises the spectre of wars over water in the future.

Just to put the numbers in relation to that for the rest of the world, major European countries have up to twice as much renewable water resources per capita, ranging from 2,300 (Germany) to 3,000 (France) cubic metres per person per year.

The United States, on the other hand, has far greater renewable water resources than China, India or major European countries: 9,800 cubic meters per person per year. By far the largest renewable water resources are reported from Brazil and the Russian Federation – with 31,900 and 42,500 cubic meters per person per year.

How did it get here? Pakistan is one of the world’s most arid countries, with an average rainfall of under 240 mm a year as this detailed backgrounder in Pakistan’s Daily Times points out.

The population and the economy are heavily dependent on an annual influx into the Indus river system (including the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas andSutlej rivers) of about 180 billion cubic meters of water, that emanates from India and is mostly derived from snow-melt in the Himalayas.

But this single river system on which Pakistan almost entirely relies has been heavily harvested and there is no additional water to be injected into system.

Paksitan needs to conserve its water, use it more wisely and set up new reservoirs on an urgent basis, the South Asia Investor says. Or else the threat posed to the nation’s stability by the battle for water may yet turn out be just as serious as the militants trying to take control. 

[Photographs of dried up lake in Islamabad and a well in Baluchistan]

Comments

Most Pakistanis blame India for all their water problems (just as they do for pretty much everything else). The truth is that the various Pakistani leaders over the years, were so busy filling up their personal coffers, scheming against each other & fighting proxy wars against Pakistan’s neighbors, that they forgot to plan for future water needs. So, while India built numerous dams, keeping the future in mind, Pakistan did not. If the Pakistani public wants to blame someone for their water problems, they need not look beyond their self centered & short sighted leaders.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Will China help or feed Pakistanis when they face starvation? Right now Pakistanis are feeding Chinese. Pakistanis are paying Chinese billions for various reasons.China only wants to destroy SE ASIA for their own strategic importance. If Pakistanis have a vision of their country, they should collaborate with India for a joint river management plan in SE ASIA. So much rain water is floods cities and drains to sea without a water management plan.Pakistanis should stop running to China for help and collaborate with India for regional development. But how many people coming out of madrassas got wisdom or vision?Pakistanis are the biggest loser in this US/China game!

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive
 

Pakistanis should be thankful (if ever?) that India has not cancelled the Indus water treaty so far, instead of 3 wars and repeated terrorist attacks.If Pakistanis continue current level of terrorism, some future Govt will cancel the water treaty and make Pakistan army drink the sea water!But don’t worry! China will save Pakistan! Or may be Saudis or FoDP!

Posted by Ram | Report as abusive
 

And, not a word regarding population control….

Posted by SE | Report as abusive
 

Pakistanis should stop running to China for help…-PatrickZardari had promised Hu Jintao to visit China every 4 months. If I was president of PR China, I would find that rather annoying because I would have other matters of state to do and they are all scheduled.I remeber when Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton was on a state visit to China and Zardari got sidelined to a agricultural lecture.Or when Zardari shows up in Beijing with a Chinese engineer who was kidnapped by the Pakistani Taliban and held for ransom (LOL). China had warned Pakistan since 2004 that it would not tolerate its people being kidnapped.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

But don’t worry! China will save Pakistan! Or may be Saudis or FoDP!-RamI am afraid not Ram. You see Pakistan has not even received the full amount of monetary aid it asked for at the previous FoDP meeting. Now, even the Arab Muslim brethren are holding back. Check out the article below.The global response has been slow and the role played by our oil-rich Muslim brethren has been particularly disappointing. It is time they stepped up to the plate.(from Dawn: Friends’ Reluctance, 27/08/2009)

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

Pakistan concern over aid from US.US financial aid to Pakistan is “unacceptable” if it is linked to monitoring of its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan’s finance minister has said.(BBC News, 27/08/2009)Pakistan wants all aid to be handled through its adminstrative systems and not the American adminstrative systems.If Pakistan wants all the help they need then beggars cannot be choosers.This adds to the:Water worries.Taliban troubles.Financial fiasco.IMF immediacy.Swat structuring.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

Water problems are not selective towards countries. There are recent articles about ground water depletion in India as well. The glaciers are disappearing. These trends will dry up the major rivers all across the sub-continent. It does not matter what the leaders of the different nations do. The people of the entire region are going to bear the brunt of this calamity. India is already preparing to import grains. Close to 700 million people are going to be affected. Hope the two nations do not use the water shortage as the reason and engage in self-destruction. People have to help each other on matters of this kind. Water is the most fundamental and essential ingredient for life. No one deserves to face drought and famine.

 

@So, while India built numerous dams, keeping the future in mind, Pakistan did not. If the Pakistani public wants to blame someone for their water problems, they need not look beyond their self centered & short sighted leaders.- Posted by MortalMortal: Pakistan did. They built Mangla dam in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. That dam supplies electricity to much of Pakistan but during building the dam, Pakistan dispalced more than 100,000 Kashmiris from Mirpur area after the area was submerged by water (close to 300 villages). The displaced were never rehabilitated and most of them went to UK. Also the promised royality is never paid to the govt of AJK.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

The danger of water scarcity to Pakistan is real, .However,the time horizon is based on the premises and data which exaggerates it.Pakistan needs to do 3 things on a high priority basis:Conserve water use,Increase water storage,And take up the issue with India.To cite diversion by India as the only cause of the problem is a mix of truth and politics

Posted by M,Altaf Hussain | Report as abusive
 

Regarding Pakistani water supply, Pakistan was too busy creating terrorism and its punjabi army was busy lining its pockets with cash, creating terrorism, only to be paid decades later by demanding extortion cash to fight the same terrorism they created. Pakistan citizen anger over the water should be directed at the Paki Army and Paki Gov’t for being asleep at the wheel, while they were busy making money for themselves. Given the last few terrorist attack on India, I am surprised that India did not just shut the taps off and stop all water flow because if the situation were different and China were the neighbour, they would have just shut the water off.It is shocking to see how stubborn the Paks are. If water is so scarce and it comes out of the Indus water basin, is it not in their interests to co-operate more with India and be friends with India, rather than maintain enmity with India?Well, the truth is that the masters of Pakistan are the punjabi junta in uniforms, while everone else dies of thirst, they have the money to always put food and water on their table. When are the punjabi’s going to start sharing the wealth reciprocally with the rest of the Pakistani’s while they starve and die of thirst?The water will always flow fully from pitchers on dinner tables behind the gated communities.

Posted by G lobal W atcher | Report as abusive
 

Bulletfish, your article said:”Pakistan concern over aid from US.US financial aid to Pakistan is “unacceptable” if it is linked to monitoring of its nuclear arsenal, Pakistan’s finance minister has said.(BBC News, 27/08/2009)”–>Beggars have no place dictating terms. I find it absolutely absurd that Pakistan be allowed to even keep its nuclear weapons while it is on Financial life support by the U.S. and other willing nations, with the exception of the Arab Nations and China, the so-called “all weather” friends.The beggar bowl and water glass should only be filled in return for complete denuclearization. The nukes have artificially bloated the EGO of the Pakistani Mafia Punjabi Junta. That artificial EGO is the source of Pakistan fueling terrorism against India and the world, without he fear of reprisals or consequences.If Pakistan denuclearizes, there is no reason that it cannot progress, like a peaceful nation and even be considered in the same league as India, in a few decades.For the time being, every EGO-ish Pakistani comment and every EGO-ish commment by Pakistani politicians and ARMY and ISI is fueled from this artificial EGO, brought about by being a nuclear state.With absolute certainty, 1000%, terrorism in Pakistan, corruption and friendship with India will improve a thousand times over, if denuclearization happens there.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Given the last few terrorist attack on India, I am surprised that India did not just shut the taps off and stop all water flow because if the situation were different and China were the neighbour, they would have just shut the water off.India can not stop river water of pakistan because of INDUS Water treaty and World Bank is the grantor of this treaty, but If (a big if) india will close the water tab of reviers then india must ready to face hash reaction of pakistan in all possible ways or aspects. Thirsty man take steps without thinking of results, if pakistan dry due to india action we dry the india with the heat of NUKES. then we die due to water shortage and indian die due to nuclear fall out,If i die due to femine or food shortages indian also die with us.Even USA didnt save the india this time like befor kargil. Pakistan built Nukes not only keeps in shelf pakistan must use these nukes when he need & sepecialy against india without any hesitation.We pakistanis is muslim we cant depend on China we depend on God not on cows, monkeys,rats,and every animals of earth like hindus.

Posted by Ali Othman | Report as abusive
 

Will Pakistan ever give up it’s slimy ways?”U.S. Accuses Pakistan of illegally Altering Missiles” – NY Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/w orld/asia/30missile.html?_r=1&hp

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

Turning off the taps is not an option. That could lead to war. Suggestion alluding to such an action by India are immature and dangerous. It is quite likely that if the taps were turned off, the Paks would undertake military efforts to destroy the Indian dams and earthworks. The Israelis did exactly that to Syria, for example. The ensuing floods and the wider armed conflict that followed would kill at minimum hundreds of thousands of Indians and Pakistanis on both sides and possibly tens of millions (if it went nuclear).That being said, India is set to be in a tough spot as Pakistan runs out of water and starts demanding more from India. It’s a twist on the story of the prodigal son. Instead of coming home, humble and repentant, the irresponsible and spendthrift son has come home to hold a knife to his father’s throat to demand more. Indians on here had better hope that their government understands the gravity of this threat.And Pakistanis on here had better hope their government has a game plan beyond demanding more water from India (which they ware not entitled to under the IWT). That the Pakistani government has already sacrificed Pakistani food security so easily (for very little economic gain), should not inspire much confidence.At its worst, this issue could undo Pakistan. As water becomes scarce, one can imagine the fights between provinces (Punjab and Sindh) and between communities within each province. I sincerely hope that the Pakistani government is taking this threat seriously.

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

It’s not threat war that stops India from cancelling the IWT. If that’s case, India could have cancelled the treaty during any of the past four wars.I think it’s just our old politicians always trying to lead by morality and impeccability. India needs to retire these old men and get some fresh thinking.

Posted by Patrick | Report as abusive
 

And Pakistanis on here had better hope their government has a game plan beyond demanding more water from India-KeithPakistan DEMANDING water from India! Pakistan is just waiting for the right time for all the noise from the Mumbai attacks to fade from people’s minds.Pakistan is already DEMANDING that it takes control of the US aid being supplied.Pakistan is in no position to DEMAND anything if it cannot get its own house in order. There is no room on this blog to list the number of problems it has.Besides the water shortage issue is in India too. With a greater urbanization of cities, water demand has increased. Plus low to no rainfall has not helped either. In India, we shoulf not need to import food, but we now have to.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

India is not doing great in regards to water either. The monsoons have failed this year and drought is likely. India can import food from abroad, but corruption and other ills will leave the starving to fend for themselves. As global warming accelerates, monsoons might play an unpredictable behavior, causing floods and famines. With no infrastructure or plan to handle such cycles, the Indian government might fall flat on its face. Frustrations in this region are easily diverted by causing conflicts and wars. Water shortage will be the next big excuse for both Pakistan and India to divert public attention and engage in a conflict where innocent lives will be sacrificed. The situation in the region is only going to worsen as time progresses.

 

The water crisis is not just a political, environmental issue, it is also a social one. Responsibility cannot just be placed on the shoulders of the state, Pakistanis as a nation, especially in the modern urban centres and cities also need to understand and be aware of the alarming nature of this situation and act ethically. It IS time to stop washing that car and watering that lawn every day, not to mention taking those long showers and baths.

Posted by Sarah Siddiq | Report as abusive
 

Mortal, you said:”Will Pakistan ever give up it’s slimy ways?“U.S. Accuses Pakistan of illegally Altering Missiles” – NY Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/w orld/ asia/30missile.html?_r=1&hp”–>The UK has the same story.Sanjeev, new topic:”Why should the world trust anything that Pakistan says?”Pakistan continues its lackluster fight against Islamic Militants, while it maintains a huge army presence against India, for no reason, but to demonize India and for the army to justify its largely parastic footprint on the heads of average un-informed Pakistani’s.While the money beggar bowl is out, and water is running out, Pakistan contintues to make nukes out of IMF money and reverse engineering weapons to use against India, while its own people starve and its economy is in shambles and Pakistan has the gaul to try dictating to the U.S. that any AID should be unconditional with no strings attached and at the same time, U.S. soldiers are being massacred in Afghanistan by the Pakistani nurtured Taliban.Anything wrong with the picture here? What place does Pakistan have dictating any terms to anybody?http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ worldnews/asia/pakistan/6118196/US-accus es-Pakistan-of-illegally-modifying-weapo ns-for-use-against-India.html

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Adding to the previous posting. While Pakistan suffers water woes, it continues to upgrade its missile capabilities, to point all its weapons on India.Please read TIME magazine article.http://www.time.com/time/world/a rticle/0,8599,1919648,00.htmlLast I checked, missiles, don’t quench the thirst of a thirsty man.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

Water shortages and outages are going to seriously affect the entire planet unless governments act boldly to fight global warming.Does anyone need more signs that climate change is already impacting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands?

Posted by Marcus Vinicius Pinto Schtruk | Report as abusive
 

India & China are not any better. Read thishttp://www.newsweek.com/id/213967

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

“A special place in climate hell is being reserved for India and China. That is, they will suffer more from global warming than, for instance, Western Europe.”http://www.newsweek.com/id/21396 7″Standing on principle is laudable, not to mention catnip for domestic audiences who resent being told by SUV-driving Americans to cut CO2 emissions. But the stance has one little downside. A special place in climate hell is being reserved for India and China. That is, they will suffer more from global warming than, for instance, Western Europe. In part, that reflects the fact that nature always batters the poor more than the rich, as Hurricane Katrina showed. The rich can afford to move, build sea walls, turn on the AC, and buy more expensive food; the poor starve, drown in typhoons, see their shanties swept away in tidal surges, and die in the heat waves and disease outbreaks that will become more common in a mercury-rising world.But India and China are also in line to suffer disproportionately because of how climate change is affecting different geographic regions. For instance, more of China and India—especially in the north—will broil (by which I mean experience median temperature increases of 8 or 9 degrees Fahrenheit) than Western Europe will, according to the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As patterns of rainfall shift to more deluges as well as more droughts due to the when-it-rains-it-pours phenomenon that global warming causes, both countries will also suffer more floods. Indeed, China’s south and west are already experiencing a sevenfold increase in deluges compared with the 1950s. And both countries will need to increase irrigation more than the world average of 1 to 3 percent by the 2020s—up to 15 percent in China and 5 percent in India. Pacific cyclones are expected to become more severe, with stronger winds and Noachian rainfall.”

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

I think its about time our politicians grew a spine and cancelled the IWT.What are the Pakis gonna do?Let me guess NUKES! This is becoming a bit like the boy who cried wolf besides Pakis won’t commit national suicide over a bit less water and they have given the NUKE blank threat so many times its more funny than scary now.There can a be a agreement that states that India is obliged to give Pakistan x,y,z quantity of food in lieu of the less water post IWT cancellation this is because Indian agricultural productivity is 3 times that of Pakistan per unit hectare i.e for the same amount of precious water our farms can produce at least twice the quantity of wheat,rice etc(plz check FAO website)this is because of better seeds,fertilizers,soil management,mechanization and pre and post harvest infrastructure.

Posted by sameer | Report as abusive
 

@SameerIt isn’t Pakistan’s fault that India is overpopulated and needs to grow food for its enormous and still growing population. Pakistan needs its water.

 

“I think its about time our politicians grew a spine and cancelled the IWT.What are the Pakis gonna do?” – Posted by sameerShutting off the tap on Pakistan is not an option; neither from a political stand point, nor from a moral one. Politically, India would lose it’s reputation & the goodwill, which it has gained in the world comity over the years. It would simply be an act of war. Morally, it just won’t be right to punish 170 million for the crimes & sins of a few. Having said that, I can also say with utmost certainty that if the shoe was on the other foot & Pakistan was in control of the rivers flowing through India, it would’ve turned off the tap on numerous occasions & that’s exactly why India shouldn’t do it because it should never act belligerently or recklessly like Pakistan. I am a strong believer in Karma. Today, India, as a nation is reaping the fruits of it’s past Karma & Pakistan is paying the price for it’s own actions. It’s probably the oldest cliche out there but what goes around, eventually does come around.

Posted by Mortal | Report as abusive
 

@Shutting off the tap on Pakistan is not an option; neither from a political stand point, nor from a moral one. Politically, India would lose it’s reputation & the goodwill, which it has gained in the world comity over the years. It would simply be an act of war.-posted by Mortal–How about reducing to trickle/shutting off water in case of Pakistan imposes war on India?

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Water may not be the only problem facing Pakistan and SE Asian regions.Pakistan to lend 700,000 acres farmland to Arab states (Dawn, 03/09/2009).If these lands are used to grow food, then this food will be shipped off to the Arab states and not to Pakistan. Where will the water come from to irrigate the soil? Will the Arabs bring bottled water?I know that Qatar has ‘bought’ a HUGE, fertile region of Kenya that has rivers. This will displace the indigenous people of that region. However, will these people benefit from this sale of land on which their ancestors have farmed for generations?

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

It is the matter of our survival

 

Well! Pakistan is great country not not cry for water
and very nice information about Pakistan Cry’s For Water
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