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NUST holds high-level roundtable on water

NUST Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS), one of the leading university-based think tanks of Pakistan, organised a high-level roundtable, "Managing the Waters: Appraising the Problems & Ways Forward," here on October 23, 2019. Besides policy researchers, academics and students, the roundtable was attended by eminent personalities and experts from Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. It dealt at length with the problems and challenges associated with national water resources development, management and governance.

In his opening remarks, Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST & Patron NIPS, stated that the inefficient use of water across the board had, inter alia, caused Pakistan to become a severely water-stressed country. He said the current unsustainable patterns of national water use, if not revised radically, could make Pakistan water-scarce in future. He advised that a water-saving approach is required to be promoted at all levels of society. The Rector also highlighted the contribution of NUST to awareness-raising through regular community and youth initiatives aimed at efficient water consumption by individuals and households.

Engr Suleman Najib Khan, a noted water expert, in his meticulously researched presentation, exposed India's blatant water aggression as well as the flawed nature of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty which, in his estimation, was never meant to be a Pakistan-friendly treaty. He further said that Pakistan should aggressively highlight the issue on international platforms. Engr Suleman recommended that a Commission for Indus Basin Strategic Analysis (CIBSA), first proposed during the National Conference on Reservoirs at Islamabad in February 1998, needed to be formed for functional R&D in the water sector together with a Pakistan Energy Planning and Execution (PEPE) entity.

Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), presented the problems of Pakistan's inland water resources. He said Pakistan had the fourth largest groundwater resources in the world after India, the US, and China but they were not the best managed. He maintained that the construction of small and medium dams was needed along with large dams, adding there was a further need to increase water use efficiency by at least 30 percent by producing more crop per drop through use of new technologies.

Other recommendations included the urgent need for the depoliticisation of water issues in Pakistan, the setting up of up-to-date water monitoring systems, the plugging of water demand-supply gap, the formulation of water recharge strategies, dynamic and aggressive water diplomacy, formation of public-private partnerships in different areas of water management, etc.

The roundtable was moderated by Dr Muhammad Arshad, CEO Consultants for Water & Environment. Prominent among the participants were Engr Shamsul Mulk, former Chairman WAPDA; Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, DG NIPS and Member Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council; Mr Ahmed Kamal, Chairman Federal Flood Commission; Dr Ghulam Muhammad Ali, DG NARC; Dr Zaigham Habib, senior water and climate change expert; and Mr Ahmer Bilal Soofi, prominent jurisconsult and former Caretaker Federal Minister for Law.

October 24, 2019 
National University of Sciences and Technology H-12, Islamabad, Pakistan
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