Earlier this month, the WAPDA chairman ruled out the construction of the Kalabagh dam until all provinces give their assent. The first parliamentary session of the country in 1948 approved the budget for this dam, but back then it was called the Mianwali Hydropower project, and only had the capacity of 500 MW of power generation. Over 60 years have passed since the blueprints of the project have been updated, with a generation capability of at least 3600 MW, if the dam is ever constructed, that is. Many governments have unsuccessfully tried to kick-start construction, such as the one under Z.A Bhutto, and most recently, the Musharraf government in 2004, have tried to get this project going, but to no avail.

Everyone knows that Pakistan needs to upgrade its power grid by at least 5000 MW to meet the rising demand for energy. Parts of Sindh such as Thar face severe droughts in the summer, and when monsoon season comes, flash floods are always a very tangible risk for both Punjab and Sindh. Blaming India for releasing water to ease the pressure on their dams is politically pointless, and is also what any country would do in the given situation. India’s responsibility is to its own people, and not to those on the east of their border.

Provinces have always fought over water shares, but it is high time that the whole country starts looking at crucial collective national interests, instead of merely focusing on an area or two. The simple fact is that small dams such as Darawat in Sindh, and Gomal dam in KPK do not offer the same benefits as Kalabagh. Electricity consumption aside, its location is the perfect spot to erect a huge reservoir that has a capacity of more than 7 km to decrease the chances of flash floods ravaging the land, but also to provide water to areas that need it in the case of a shortage. It is the job of parliamentarians from Sindh and KPK to ensure that no one gets an unequal share if a large dam is made, and simply blocking Kalabagh dam’s construction to make their own job easier is costing the entire country, not just Punjab.