Many of the worlds leading nations well known for their economic development had long ago implemented policies to optimise the use of their water and land. Construction of dams is one of the methods by which water resource can be utilised to the maximum. Since dams are instrumental not only in the preservation of water supply, but are also used for hydroelectric power generation and irrigation. India, for example, has constructed thousands of dams since independence (it ranks the third in the world in dam building, after US and China) and is fast becoming agriculturally self-sufficient. Pakistan, on the other hand, has miserably failed to safeguard its water resources. Kalabagh Dam became a victim of political and provincial conflict with the result that after Mangla and Tarbela we have not been able to construct even one reservoir of any reasonable proportion. Precious water in Pakistan is being wasted so cruelly. A case in point is the issue of Baglihar Dam. The sad part is that while India in violation of the Indus Water Treaty, is continuing to build this massive dam on River Jehlum, and which will have grave implications for Pakistan, we are still squabbling on issues such as whether or not Musharraf should be tried. Earlier a feeble attempt was made for filing a case against India, but with no results. The Pakistani government now seems to have accepted this as a fait accompli, and unfortunately given up any further attempts to stop India. I recently had the chance to meet with some of the most well-known international law experts in UK who were of the view that if Pakistan was serious, then a very considerable challenge can be made in the international court to halt Indias progress on the dam. But alas, as with many other things, nothing is being done. We continue to stumble in our own internal conflicts while very soon India will complete the project and then it will be too late. I must, however, admit that a commendable policy for building smaller run of the river reservoirs on the rivers flowing in NWFP (unconnected with India) was announced by the previous government, and work began in earnest on about a dozen projects. Unfortunately, this policy too seems to have fallen prey to the internal conflicts; this time between the federal and the provincial government. The provincial government petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the right of the centre to build a dam on the water flowing through the Frontier. Although the Islamabad High Court dismissed the petition, the SC has currently ordered a stay on the construction work of the project. While this dispute is going on billions of cubic metres of precious water is wasted. Needless to say, in the meantime, Pakistans land continues to go dry and its population suffers unbearable load shedding due to lack of electricity. I would urge upon the federal and provincial government to resolve their dispute. Water belongs to Pakistan and not to any province and construction of 'run of the river projects would not harm anyone, but only benefit Pakistan. No province should claim right over it. I would also hope that the SC would decide this issue forthwith as each days delay is costing the nation heavily. This brings me to the issue of another valuable natural resource - agricultural land, which fortunately is abundantly available in Pakistan, but is being wasted. Instead of developing modern methods to ensure that yields per acre are maximised, most of Pakistans agricultural land is still being under-utilised owing to the use of archaic agricultural techniques. The cost of food items is increasing rapidly. The survival of countries in future will only depend upon providing essential commodities to their people at cheap rates. In this context, some oil rich countries have decided to purchase agricultural lands in developing and under-developed Muslim countries so that future supply of food and profits from the production of agricultural products can come under their control. They have been investing heavily in Sudan and now seeking to acquire agricultural lands in Pakistan as well. While each country has its national interests above all others, our national interest too must come first. To my shock, however, the Pakistani government is willing to sell this land to anyone who can afford it. To me it is criminal act even to think of allowing Pakistanis to give up the ownership of their agricultural lands to non-Pakistanis. Agriculture is, however, one industry, which can flourish and not only feed our population, but also earn money for the country through exports. It is well recognised that a well-fed populace is a happy one. It is essential therefore that one is self-sufficient in food production and not dependent on other countries. It should be unthinkable therefore to allow the sale of agricultural lands to any foreign entity. I am glad that LHCBA has passed a resolution demanding the government to immediately withdraw leasing of agricultural land to other countries. The government too should make a clear policy that no foreigner of non-Pakistani origin can directly or indirectly own land in Pakistan. This is in fact a policy followed in many countries. I give the example of India again whereby it is recognised that agricultural lands must remain with Indians and as such no foreigner is allowed to purchase Indian agricultural land. Perhaps the SC can take suo moto action on this as well. Agricultural land is the soul of a nation. Lets not put our soul up for sale. The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: