ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman yesterday said Pakistan will have absolute water scarcity by 2025, which would hit women and other margin­alised groups dispropor­tionately hard.

Speaking at Jinnah Insti­tute’s event on Democracy and Inclusion, she said the mainstream policy agendas frequently overlook crucial statistics, and fail to create responsive mechanisms, like not convening the Cli­mate Change Council.

“From being the 7th most vulnerable country to cli­mate change, Pakistan has climbed ranks to the 5th most vulnerable. At least 60 per cent of Pakistanis suffer from food insecu­rity and if the dangerous nexus of poverty, climate stress, and the demograph­ic boom is not addressed Pakistan will surely fall into a prolonged destitu­tion trap, Senator Rehman emphasized,” she said.

Senator Rehman said more concerted efforts at an institutional level were needed. She lauded civil society organisations for their activism, and ability to galvanise governmental and donor support.

“Countries face a seri­ous crisis when their pop­ulation and growth rate curves collide, a fate soon to befall Pakistan if its pop­ulation growth becomes equivalent to its economic growth,” she said.

“Pakistan is one of the few countries proving Malthus correct in this respect,” she stated. Pakistan must re­view the efforts of countries in the region, particularly Bangladesh, and learn how the country has checked its burgeoning population,” Sherry Rehman said.

Other speakers at the event discussed the value of programming inclu­sion into democracy prac­tice. They said important strides had been made through institutional re­form and legislative ac­tion, including a host of interventions taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan, and the National Database and Registra­tion Authority to facilitate women and marginalized groups casting their votes.

The participants said these were modest steps and much more needed to be done. Some speakers felt that this was the ba­sic minimum that democ­racies should deliver for their citizens, and report­ing numbers did not enable meaningful inclusion

They spoke about longer term historical trajectories that have compounded democratic deficits, and prevented citizens from having a full measure of their rights. The colonial legacy turned citizens into subjects, and convincing the state otherwise has been extremely challeng­ing. Participants saw that the state has undertaken systemic exclusion against certain groups, and its se­curity imperatives sustain such exclusions.

The democratic agenda was therefore a hard sell with the state, as much as society, where women re­main at the fringes of ex­ecutive authority, decision making, financial indepen­dence and self expression.

They expressed that in­clusion need not be a de­mand from parliaments and politicians alone, as institutions and proce­dures outside the political realm is deeply exclusion­ary and revealed socially entrenched attitudes that no democracy program can influence.

The Jinnah Institute held the event in conjunction with DAI-Tabeer, a UK-Aid funded programme aime­dat strengthening demo­cratic practices in Pakistan by supporting institutions like ECP, Parliament and political parties to be more capable and accountable and responsive.