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Water crisis to hit country if reservoirs not built: Ahsan Iqbal

By Our Staff Correspondent 2017-04-19
HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Dr Ahsan Iqbal has warned that there is a potential threat from climate change and other factors which may cause a water crisis in the country within the next 10-15 years.

He was speaking to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz workers and briefly talking to journalists at a reception hosted for him by senior party colleagues Jamal Arif Soharwardi and Shah Mohammad Shah.

`Climate change has placed Pakistan among seven top vulnerable countries. Therefore, we cannot afford laxity considering the fact that glacial line will melt within the next 10 to 15 years. The rainfall pattern has already changed. So, reservoirs should be built after consensus [ofallstakeholders] under an anti-drought strategy,` he said.

Referring to the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam having 6MAF storage capacity, he said the federal government was actively working on it. `In addition, Pakistan is trying to safe-guard its rivers through diplomacy ... no power on earth can rob us of our water,` he said.

Dr Iqbal said that besides the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), there were agreements of international arbitration in which the international community stood guarantor.

Pakistan would defend its right at all forums to protect every drop of its water, he said, adding that simultaneously, Pakistan must ensure water efficiency and complete construction of its reservoirs.

The PML-N leader insisted that the credit of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) went to his party and challenged other claimants to produce a copy of the relevant documents. `I am ready to produce a copy of the agreement signed by me in July 2013 in the presence of two premiers,` he said. He sought to discredit the PPP leadership on CPEC, saying: `Success has many fathers`.

The minister said that Keti Bandar project was included in CPEC while Thar coal and the Karachi Circular Railway had been resurrected.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced establishment of a university in Hyderabad and the federal government intends tostart its classes in September.

The minister stated that the federal government was working in a close relationship with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, whom he described as `a professional and an educated leader`.

`We will never allow anything that may cause misgiving [between the two governments],` he said.

By levelling allegations against the federal government, the Sindh leadership could not absolve itself of the responsibility of service delivery, he said, citing failure of governance of successive governments in Sindh. He said the federal government never blocked transfer of resources of any province and it would never do that in future as well.

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a three-day international conference on `CPEC: political, economic and social perspectives`, at Sindh University in Jamshoro, the federal minister said that CPEC would bring prosperity, help curb unemployment and extremism and alleviate poverty in the country.

`CPEC is not a military or security pact; it is a mega project ofeconomic cooperation and prosperity,` he said Dr Iqbal said the government had decided to focus on geo-economics instead of geopolitics because `Pakistan is situated on an ideal location in South Asia ie next to China and Central Asia with a population of three billion`.

He said that without Pakistan, these regions could not be integrated because direct links of these states could not be made or it would not be possible geographically. Pakistan`s inclusion would shape them into a huge economic block, he added.

He said CPEC was also addressing power generation issues because $35 billion out of the basic investment of $40bn was allocated fortheenergysector.

He said light engineering, labour intensive work pattern and low-cost production mechanism were responsible for rapid growth of economy in China and relocation of 85 million job opportunities in the global setting.

`We need to cash in on these opportunities so that Pakistani youth could also profit,` he said.

He stated that agricultural economy was being transformed into industrial economy.