By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad and Hanns Seidel Foundation, Pakistan jointly organized a Roundtable Discussion on â€œWater Security Challenges and Conservation Strategy for Pakistanâ€ at Islamabad Club, here this Tuesday. The discussion commenced with the opening remarks of Major General Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery HI(M), (Retd), President CGSS. He welcomed the participants of the session and stated that water management is a significant issue from defence point of view also that needs to be addressed.
Dr. Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Pakistan in his welcome remarks stated that climate change is becoming a complex gamble to win. Pakistan is one of the most significant country of South Asia and relying on one river system would be risky. Furthermore, he stated that water needs to become a topic of regional dialogue and in collaboration of CGSS, we plan to organize broader events to discuss this issue with a broader regional audience. Dr. Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) stated that Pakistan has abundant water but the problem lies with efficient absorption and retaining mechanism. One major problem is development of water resources. Currently, we are storing only 9-10% of the water, which must be stored atleast 40% according to the international standards. Second most important issue is water resource management, 60% of water is lost due to improper storage system. Thirdly, is the governance aspect. The water is provided free of cost and there is no incentive for saving water. We must emphasize on efficient utilization of water.
Mr. Ahmed Kamal, Chairman, Federal Flood Commission, Ministry of Water Resources, Govt of Pakistan stated that Pakistan has good resources of water but we are not managing it to the optimal level. Water scarcity is going to effect Pakistan by our own follies. Pakistan has been severely impacted in the last 5 years by the virtue of viable climate change. He recommended that small water conservation strategies must be adopted in various parts across the country which will enable to retain water in adequate amount.
Dr. Yusuf Zaraf, TI, Former Chairman, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) stated that unfortunately, in Pakistan, water has always been linked with power. On 4th August 2017, the Government decided to have a separate Ministry for water issues. Agriculture consumes 95% of water. In the recent times, due to bad governance, we have increased the crops that consume more water. However, we have not opted for low delta water crops.
Dr. Hassan Abbas â€“ Chairman Forte, Integrated Water Resources Management stated that to treat the problems, the cause must also be identified. He stated that the best cooperation related to water is in terms of navigation. The issue of storage is important and must be highlighted.
Other panelists of the Discussion deliberated upon water security challenges and conservation strategy for Pakistan in a concise manner to find applicable solutions and appropriate policy options and actions. The panelists discussed the prevailing water challenges to Pakistan and its conservation strategy. The loopholes in current water policy were also highlighted while presenting suggestions regarding restructuring the existing water policy for constructive outcomes. Other panelists of the Discussion included:
Brigadier Muhammad Aslam Khan (Retd) – Chairman Gomal Damaan Area Water Partnership Pakistan
Dr. Bashir Ahmad, Director Climate Change, Alternate Energy and Water Resources Institute, National Agriculture Research Council
Engr. Dr. Basharat Hasan Bashir, Expert in Alternative Energy
Dr. Muhammad Zia ur Rahman Hashmi, Head, Water Resources and Glaciology Section of Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC)
Mr. Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal, Lead Researcher, National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA)
The event was attended by approximately 27 participants and was moderated by Lt Col Khalid Taimur Akram (Retd), Executive Director, CGSS.