Regional & Pakistan food Crisis

Nation Oct 29 – In a warning tone, president Asif Ali Zardari tried to sensitise the international community about the criticality of food security in order to achieve peace and stability both in the country and in the region.

by Khurshid Anwer

This is hilarious, not only the language but also the warning to the international community when he himself is blind to all the warnings about the serious shortage of water in the country caused by the depleting storages and inaction on any additional storages.

Talking to Director FAO, he continued “Agriculture sector that contributes 21% share to national GDP and provides employment to about 45% has suffered huge losses during the recent floods”.

Wrong again. The figures he is quoting are history and were already down to half even before the floods. So was the 40% contribution of the agro based industry to national exports.

On another subject, despite my repeated stress on the importance of the left bank canal at kalabagh dam to the agriculture of north Punjab, I was most disappointed to read in the Governor’s 100-point document:

“However the dam design was modified to eliminate the Left and Right bank canals to obviate the concerns of other provinces”.

“The Kalabagh Dam design does not include any provision for diverting water from the reservoir using any high level outlets”.

In my detailed response I have once again emphasized that without the left bank canal north Punjab will not get even 1% of the 37% allocation from Kalabagh dam or any other dam on the Indus, be it Tarbela, Bhasha, Akhori, Skardu or Katzara dam. What this will do to 80% of the agriculture of Pakistan does not seem to bother any one.

The fear that Punjab will take Sindh’s share from Kalabagh dam is based on ignorance of the fact that Punjab will take only its allotted share from the stored water and not from Sindh’s share, nor from the Indus river. Share for Sindh already having been increased by decreasing Punjab’s share. This imaginary fear is holding back construction of Kalabagh dam and denying both Punjab and Sindh of 2.2 million acre feet of additional water each.

Another news item in the Nation of the same date:

Scarcity of water and high prices of diesel have put growers in troubled water intending to sow wheat crop. The growers in Punjab are already facing 15 percent reduction in their water share for wheat crop. One-acre land can be irrigated with canal water at Rs 150-200. The cost crosses Rs 3,000 when one goes for the alternative source as prices of diesel are high”.

The president should be putting his own house in order instead of issuing warnings to the international community.

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