PM launches ‘jihad’ against water crisis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday appealed to all Pakistanis, particularly the overseas diaspora, to donate funds to help the country build dams.

“Pakistan is at risk of major droughts by the year 2025. The future of our next generations will be in jeopardy if we do not take any urgent steps to build water reservoirs now,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an address broadcast on the national television networks, adding the country faces a ‘serious crisis’. “Construction of dams in Pakistan is inevitable,” he said, and pointed out that the country had an average water storage capacity of only 30 days, as compared to 190 days of India, and 1,000 days for Egypt. He said on an average, a country should have 120-day storage capacity.

The prime minister said in 1947, the water storage for each Pakistani was around 5,600 cubic meters, while has now dwindled to 1,000 cubic meters. He said the experts had already warned about the impact of climate change on Pakistan, adding the country was expected to be hit by a drought by the year 2025. He warned that Pakistan would not have any water for its crops and for feeding its people.

“I laud Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar for his initiative of launching funds for the construction of dams,” he said, and admitted that it was not the job of the chief justice to take such steps, but of the political leadership of the country. He regretted that the past political leaderships of the country failed to do their duty.

The prime minister announced merger of the Prime Minister’s Fund and that of the chief justice and made an appeal to the overseas Pakistanis to send in remittances for the dams in US dollars. “I urge all overseas Pakistanis to send in at least 1,000 US dollars each. Those who cannot send it in one go, they may send as much as they can,” he said, and added that there were around eight to nine million Pakistanis living abroad. “We will not only get the money for the dams, but will also get the urgently needed foreign exchange reserves,” he said, and expressed the hope that with the funds available, Pakistan will be able to build the dams in five years.

Imran Khan said the overseas Pakistanis had always stood by him in the past and supported his initiatives of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Namal College Mianwali. “We won’t need any loans,” he said. “I promise to protect every penny of your hard-earned money,” he added.

Imran Khan directed all PTI chapters abroad and also those of other political parties to launch a ‘jihad’ to collect these funds for Pakistan. He said in the briefings he had received in the past fortnight, he was astonished to find out the quantum of challenges the country faced. He said the total loans the country owed were Rs 6000 billion (Rs 6 trillion) 10 years back, but today they have swelled to Rs 30,000 billion (Rs 30 trillion).

Published in Daily Times, September 8th 2018.

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