Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, addressing the ‘Water for Life Conference 2015’ in Dushanbe, stated that to safeguard a sustainable and prosperous future for the coming generations, availability of water resources is essential. He said that, two thirds of the world population could be facing water shortages; however, Pakistan was determined to provide access to water for residential consumers, industries and agriculture. If there is such an awareness of the water crisis, the question that arises is, that why hasn’t the government still done anything about it?

The International Monetary Fund recently warned Pakistan about the water scarcity, one that could threaten all aspects of national economy. Blaming “lack of proper management” for this predicament; it stated us to be among the world’s 36 most water-stressed countries and the situation to get worse, with the increase in population. Pakistan has the necessary natural endowment and one of the world’s most extensive irrigation systems. However, a lack of interest, one that has been overlooked by the state, given a prolific focus on terrorism, state security and a political warfare, has made this very real problem look as if it is only secondary.

The per capita annual water availability in Pakistan has dropped fundamentally due to population growth, from 5,600 cubic metres at independence, to the current level of 1,017 cubic metres, and is projected to decline further under the current infrastructure and institutional conditions. Moreover, the demand for water is on the rise, projected to reach 274 million acre-feet (MAF) by 2025, while supply is expected to remain stagnant at 191 MAF, resulting in a demand-supply gap of approximately 83 MAF. Why is it that the state still does not see this as an alarming problem for the country, one that is threatening to wipe out our future generations?

If on an international forum, Pakistan is being urged to focus on demand- side measures that promote conservation and control of excessive groundwater exploitation, but execution on the part of our state is almost nonexistent. With politicians, that have magnanimously declared the countries needs over their own, we are yet to see when the water crisis would be taken on by them. One can say, that since, they are not getting any direct glory or benefit from investing in a more regulatory water distribution and management; only silence can be heard from them, regarding such a startling crisis.