Floods symbolise miseries and destruction and their effects can be felt for a very long time, like wrong decisions by politicians drive nations backward and derail them from the path of progress and growth. I am worried to see the way politics is being played on floods where the governments, at both the federal and provincial levels are fighting on percentage sharing. The federal government represents the state and the state is the mother which has to be looked after by each and every citizen of the land.

I wish and hope that Imran khan should have been more tactful and gracious in working with CM Sindh, and CM Sindh should also have cooperated for the sake of the people of Karachi.

The media teams on both sides fight like kids and it looks as if both sides’ media teams are indulging in competition where they are winning at the cost of the public of Karachi who are already crushed with ethnic and poverty storms.

I hope my observations will be taken positively as Karachi is my city too, where I studied and started my civil service; I know the problems of Karachi.

My appeal to fellow politicians is to stop playing politics on floods and other natural disasters at the cost of your own poor masses.

Floods destroy everything that comes in their way and as a poor nation, we keep looking for support and help from rich countries at the cost of our self-respect.

Is it not the duty of the federal or provincial governments to sit with the map of Pakistan, analyse past destruction of the floods and design ways to channel flood water by creating channels based on surveys and hold this water in dams in all provinces?

We should know who is in the charge of it and which authority can take up with provincial authorities. Let me point out that it is the duty of “water board” which needs to be converted into Water board authority which should be empowered with adequate funding to manage the flood water and river water in such a way that each and every drop of water falls in the sea and every drop is used for agriculture to enhance our agricultural proceeds.

Despite being rich in water resources, we Pakistanis continue to face water scarcity every year because of the inability of authorities to properly use and manage these water resources for socioeconomic and environmental sustainability.

Poor water management is costing our country around 4-5 percent of GDP each year. These costs are caused by the floods and droughts that we face due to poor water supply and sanitation. We are endowed with water yet we do not make the best use of this.

The most alarming thing here is that the water crisis was rated as the biggest risk to Pakistan by the World Economic Forum and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources. They also warned that the country could “run dry” by 2025.

Half of the annual rainfall in our country occurs in July and August, averaging about 255 millimetres in each of those two months. The remainder of the year has significantly less rain, amounting to about fifty millimetres per month.

This year in August, only Karachi received 484 mm (19 inches) rain. It is the highest rainfall recorded over the last 90 years.

Pakistan receives 145 million-acre feet of water every year. However, only 14m acre-feet of water are preserved and we can meet the shortage if we have proper storage of rainwater and floodwater.

We have rivers and small streams coming from mountains finally meeting at “Sutledge”. The flows and diversions need to be examined scientifically with proper measurements to ensure the use of water for the betterment of local people; it is also important to analyse its miserable effects on the public and crops.

Let every town build a local rain pond which can store all the rainwater which can be used by them later for agricultural and irrigation purposes. Once a storage capacity is built, then a sprinkler irrigation system can be designed and introduced to better store and manage this precious water.

The water can also be converted into clean drinking water by using small plants. This sweet water can be used in multiple ways if properly managed by the local bodies.

We may also let the DC be the Head of a Rainwater Authority to ensure the government’s indulgence and control. It is an extensive but very simple exercise and this should be opted for on a priority.

On one hand, we are facing water scarcity due to floods and poor water management while on the other, we are also facing water terrorism from India as it wants to either just stop/block our share of water with ulterior motives when we need it, or release extra water into our rivers to increase the flow causing floods in Pakistan and we know that both of these are dangerous for Pakistan.

As we are dependent on India for water, Modi, by blocking water, wants to deprive Pakistan of water to convert her into a desert. In fact, Modi is following a full-fledged anti-Pakistan agenda.

India has worked out that the one of the national key quotients is water and hence, India will continue to block water flow from India to Pakistan. PM Modi had already thrown the first water bomb on Pakistan in 2018 by blocking our legitimate natural watercourse. India had completed its construction of Kishanganga hydropower project on the Neelam River by diverting the watercourse through a 16 km tunnel, which is a clear violation of the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.

The Kishanganga River, upon entering Pakistani territory is recognised as Neelam River that originates from Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir, and flows through the Gurez Valley to join Jhelum River near Muzaffarabad, at Domail, in Azad Jammu Kashmir. The construction of Kishanganga Dam is also in violation of Article III (4) of the Indus Water Treaty, which places an obligation or restriction on India not to construct any similar projects on western rivers, that is, on Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. Also, the construction of the Kishanganga project will adversely affect the Neelum-Jhelum project, as its power generation capacity will be reduced radically. In accordance with Article III (2) of Indus Water Treaty, India is also prohibited from developing any human made obstructions that shall have or may cause a change in the volume of the natural flow of western rivers.

The project includes a 121 feet tall concrete-face rock-fill dam, which will divert a portion of the river to the south through a 24 km tunnel. The diversion reduced the flow of water into Pakistan by about 11 percent in the summer and about 27 percent in the winter, which would be contrary to the Indus Water Treaty as the western rivers belong to Pakistan. It also contends that the diversion would result in an ecological disaster for the area.

India had signed all the important Conventions that, with complete effect, would ruin our valley totally. It is sad to note that neither our previous government nor the present one ever took this matter seriously whereas the water issue is supposed to be an issue of life and death.

My above suggestions are better in both ways to use the extra water for irrigation. In this way, induction terrorism by India via water flow can be controlled and we can convert this misery into success by irrigating barren land.

We need to bring an enactment/bill or a “rainfall act” to get these activities regulated as a national priority. I am confident that this law will be of great benefit for the nation.

As per many predictions, the next wars will be over sweetwater.

I wish our defence sector takes initiatives to take help of our soldiers to develop these water channels during peacetime with the help of the local public on a volunteer basis.

Let all the provinces and the federation give serious thought to my above proposals.

I will, however, move a bill on “The Flood Control Act” in order to store rainwater throughout the country, fixing the responsibility on concerned authorities.

We have water, all types of minerals, a fertile landscape, the best brains, four seasons, the best beaches, natural gas, green mountains with blue waters and lakes, deserts and forests, but we do not have the command of unity and the skills of governance. We are still slaves of false egos and are masters of self-destruction.

It is time for the leadership to wake up and not flood their national cause and interest. Lead your nation to drive to the valley of love and not hate to protect your future generations.

“National unity Zindabad”.

Author Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.

Senator Rehman Malik

The writer is former Interior Minister of Pakistan, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Chairman of Think Tank “Global Eye”. He is the author of four books and his fifth book is about to get published. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter 

@Senrehmanmalik