To sustain Pakistan’s 200-million strong population, our country mainly depends on the agriculture industry. It employs the bulk of our entire labour force, and contributes over 24 percent to the GDP of the country. However, recently this industry has suffered a lot, due to the drop in water levels as over 90 percent of all our water supply is redirected to our crops. The ensuing situation is quite alarming, as many parts of our country are now going through a severe shortage of water, especially parts of Balochistan and Sindh. While global warming is blamed for most of this situation, other factors do come into account as well. Our dispute with India over our rivers is a huge cause of our current problems, as we are the lower riparian giving them an advantage over our water supply. While global warming might be a problem that is outside Pakistan’s control, they can focus on resolving their disputes with India. The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was essential in containing the problems between the two nations, but, even under the watchful eye of the World Bank (WB), the treaty has not had a smooth sailing. Pakistan claims that India is constantly fiddling with the flow of the rivers, building dams and raising other hydro-electrical projects without sharing the technical data with them beforehand. This is the main reason behind Pakistan’s recent move to involve the WB when India announced the construction of the Kishanganga and Baglihar dams. Besides their many disputes with their neighbour to the East, Pakistan also struggles in saving or conserving water. Tarbella and Mangla dams have both suffered from constant stilting, and no new dams have been constructed to share their load. While this decision was taken after an understanding between the different provinces, it is Sindh who has raised the most objections. Water expert and former secretary of irrigation for the province, Mr Idrees Rajput, argued that most of the problems arose due to the lack of trust between Punjab and Sindh, as well as the poor implementation of the water apportionment agreement under IRSA (Indus River System Authority). Many influential politicians, bureaucrats and local landlords, in league with the forest department, have illegally occupied thousands of acres of forest land. The government should retake possession of this land and start a drive to plant new trees, in order to counteract the effects of deforestation Sindh’s grievances related to water pilferage are understandably a major issue, with the major concern being that the river water is wasted if it is allowed to enter the sea. Experts believe that 10 MAF (million acre feet) of water is necessary to keep the Indus delta safe from sea intrusion, and large chunks of fertile agricultural land in the districts of Sujjawal, Thatta, and Badin have already gone irretrievably saline due to sea intrusion. This has naturally affected the human life and flora and fauna along the coastal area of the said districts. The outgoing government recently announced a National Water Policy (NWP) under which water conservation was emphasised. However, there is a need to focus on ‘agriculture research’, particularly in ‘plant breeding and genetics’, in order to produce new varieties of crops which are drought resistant and consume minimum water. Rice crop, for example,use a lot of water and is grown in flooded irrigation, which is the case for several other several other crops, including sugarcane. The solution would not be to stop production of these crops, but to produce hybrid seeds do not require as much water. Our research in agriculture is minimal, as agriculture research officers are normally recruited in basic grade-17 and they mostly retire in the same grade as well. Such an environment is not a catalyst for great discoveries. There is also a need to conserve the seasonal monsoon flood water in small dams, preferably built in Sindh. Lining work of barrages, canals, water courses may be ensured in order to stop seepage and unnecessary water evaporation. Deforestation should also be cut down, especially along the banks of the Indus River. Many influential politicians, bureaucrats and local landlords, in league with the forest department, have illegally occupied thousands of acres of forest land. The government should retake possession of this land and start a drive to plant new trees, in order to counteract the effects of deforestation. In the end, it all comes down to our rising population and its water usage. We need to make sure that we cut down on waste, and reorient our lifestyles to better reflect our current situation. We also need to conduct comprehensive research on the problem of water scarcity, in order to formulate a long-term plan for the future development of our country. The writer is freelance contributor. He blogs at malibaloch.wordpress.com and tweets @M_Abaloch Published in Daily Times, June 28th 2018.