PR:  Applauding the unanimous approval of Pakistan’s first National Water Policy by all the four provinces, the energy experts participating in a roundtable advised on expediting the process of policy’s implementation by relying on country’s own resources instead of wasting time in seeking help from other countries and international institutions.

The recommendation was made in a roundtable session titled ‘Pakistan’s National Water Policy: An Appraisal’, which was organized by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. The session was chaired by Mirza Hamid Hasan, former secretary, Ministry of Water and Power and chairman, IPS committee on Energy, Water and Climate Change; and addressed by Ashfaq Mehmood, former secretary,  Ministry of Water and Power, Syed Akhter Ali, former member, energy, Planning Commission of Pakistan, DG-IPS Khalid Rahman, Amb (r) Tajammul Altaf, and others.

Mehmood, while commending the policy’s approval despite the delay, said that the worldview was now moving from construction of larger dams to building of smaller ones and the same approach could be well-suited to Pakistan as well especially when the larger dams had a tendency of attracting controversies.

Urging to tackle the issue of water scarcity through scientific means, the speaker advised on devising a mechanism to make rainwater and muddy water usable after cleansing. The speaker also suggested limiting the cultivation of certain crops – such as sugar and rice – which needed a lot of water for their growth, and replacing them with the ones which required lesser amount of water.

Awareness raising over water issues was another area pointed by Mehmood that sought attention. He termed it a need of time to train people in using water with much care, even stressing that the topic should even be taught to children at schools in a bid to create its understanding from the elementary level.

Hasan viewed that while the importance of water for any country needs no exposition, yet it was unfortunate that the policy over the issue took so long in formulation due to the disagreements among policymakers. It was however heartening to finally see the consensus over the matter which can be seen as a historical happening for Pakistan.

The roundtable session, which was participated by policy practitioners, former bureaucrats and water and energy experts, saw many other viable recommendations put on board as well including the efficient utilization of water coming from Kabul river and the striking of an agreement similar to the Indus Water Treaty with China and Iran as well.