The endless political debate surrounding Kalabagh Dam has wasted several years of ours, causing an irrevocable loss. It is time to face the reality. Pakistan wastes water worth Rs 25 billion annually and preserves only 14 million acre feet (MAF) of 145 MAF of water it receives every year. The fact that the country houses only three major dams, whose height is more than 100 metres, cannot be buried under piles of theories and reports that argue on the utility or harms of Kalabagh Dam. While water shortage is one dimension of the multifaceted predicament, the aforementioned scenario has become, the occurrence of flash floods on annual basis is another. The whole fuss that is highlighted by our political leadership, media and the masses is about how silting and sedimentation has reduced the storage capacity of our dams and how the lion’s share of water entering Pakistan through its rivers is drained into the Arabian Sea in the south without being used at all. Another aspect that is constantly overlooked by all stakeholders is related to flash floods that have been claiming an alarming number of lives since the beginning of this millennium. Generally resulting from heavy rainfall in the immediate vicinity, these floods result in displacements, outbreak of epidemics, fatal casualties, and infrastructure disruptions. These barometers can be easily used to measure the amount of precipitation. Over 4,000 villages were affected in Sindh alone in 2003. Approximately 2,000 people were consumed by exceptionally heavy monsoon rains that hit Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 2010. The sole purpose of this heavy precipitation in Pakistan is to cause floods after which they are free to flow into the sea without any barrier or reservoir to stop and store this water. It is for this utility, i.e. to prevent flooding and restricting the flow of water, along with other associated uses, such as human consumption, irrigation, and generation of electricity by tidal power, that construction of dams and barrages is highly encouraged all over the world. The flexibility that barrages offer because of being low-head diversion dams whose gates could be closed or opened according to the amount of water that has to pass through them make them suitable for regulating water level in upstream and their use in irrigation systems. Nevertheless, the reservoirs created by dams suppress floods because of their primary purpose to retain water and prevent its flow into specific regions. The six barrages built under the Indus Water Treaty 1960 are still the major ones on which our irrigation system is standing. Only four new barrages have been added to the system and made functional since then to share the load of those six Pakistan is equally unfortunate in this regard, as the six barrages built under the Indus Water Treaty 1960 are still the major ones on which our irrigation system is standing. Only four new barrages have been added to the system and made functional since then to share the load of those six. Of the total water Pakistan receives in its Eastern and Western rivers and their tributaries, approximately 10 MAF evaporates during its course of flowing into the Arabian Sea. Roughly the same amount seeps into the ground to amount for the water table and the critical problem of water-logging that prevails in fertile areas of the country. This water has the potential of generating more than double megawatts of electricity being produced today. Therefore, as per the simple calculation, it is not water shortage that is troubling Pakistan and playing with its future; it is a clear-cut case of mismanagement. 113th Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) meeting was held in Islamabad this March where delegations from Pakistan and India led by their respective Indus waters commissioners resumed the talks after a lacuna of two years. Pakistan maintained its stance on opposing the 330-megawatt Kishenganga project as it would cause a 40 per cent reduction of water flowing into the country, while India insisted on denying the charge. What harm would this reduction cause to Pakistan when a much higher percentage is already being wasted annually by Pakistan itself? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed his resolve last year in November to not let the water which ‘belongs’ to India flow into Pakistan. “The fields of our farmers must have adequate water. Water that belongs to India cannot be allowed to go to Pakistan”, he had said. What about the surplus water that would remain after providing enough water to their farmers? Is there any magical way of storing each and every drop of water within the confinements of India? Should we actually be worrying about any such impossibility? The extra water will eventually be discharged. And we don’t have enough dams to store all of it. This will be followed by more floods, more deaths and more sufferings. Keeping all diplomatic and political interests within and between Pakistan and India, which option is wiser — asking for more, or preserving the one we already get and have? The choice is quite obvious to make, but it is always the intentions that are unknown and, therefore, dubious. The writer is a freelance columnist from Lahore Published in Daily Times, July 27th 2017.