News Analysis |
The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, bashed at those criticizing the campaign for collecting donations to construct dams. ‘Those claiming that asking for donations, for the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dam, is ‘begging’ should be ashamed of themselves’, the CJP remarked on Tuesday. The CJP was apparently irked by undue floods of criticism on social media and mainstream print media, where many people have termed the campaign a new method of begging. The CJP categorially stated that “narrow-minded people have such thinking.”
Justice Nisar is known for his judicial activism. He has made several surprise visits to hospitals and other places to ensure the provision of basic human rights to every citizen of the country. He has also repeatedly said that his own house (courts) needed to be brought in order. The intention of the CJP is to make the government accountable, hence, he has urged them to deliver properly. “Opponents could not find anything else to criticize so they started pointing fingers at the construction of the dam,” he said unhappily. Nisar also added, “we started the fund in the name of patriotism, and working on a self-help basis in not begging,”.
“There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems,” the PM said as he began the address. He also added, “our debt today stands at Rs 30,000 billion but the biggest problem we currently face is the water crisis,”.
The CJP established a dam fund in July this year to raise money for the construction of Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dam. It is important to mention here that the CJ has said that water shortage is now the “top priority” of the court and took a Suo Motu notice of the matter. Justice Sardar Tariq Masood also regretted that none of the political parties had taken the water issue seriously enough to include it in their manifestos.
While expressing his concern over the dam built on the Kishanganga River, by India as part of its Kishanganga hydropower plant project, the Chief Justice highlighted that the Neelum River, which is a tributary of the said Indian river, has dried up. Some reports prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) have alarmed that the country will reach absolute water scarcity by the year 2025.
The UN report also highlights that the most immediate threats would be water unavailability to the masses and Neil Buhne, UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Pakistan said, “No person in Pakistan, whether from the North with its more than 5,000 glaciers, or from the south with its ‘hyper deserts’, will be immune to this.” Moreover, the reports are attributing the crisis to climate change and poor management around the country. Due to lack of attention and political will in Pakistan, there could have been no new dams to manage the country’s water crisis.
Experts suggest that this is an alarming situation and Pakistan needs to focus on developing a comprehensive policy mechanism to address the challenge. Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on the eve of 7th September for a short while. He urged the country and particularly the overseas Pakistanis to donate money ‘as much as they can’ to build dams. “There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems,” the PM said as he began the address. He also added, “our debt today stands at Rs 30,000 billion but the biggest problem we currently face is the water crisis,”.
PM Khan appealed to the overseas Pakistanis and said that “if every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves.” He also assured the donors that he [PM] will be responsible to use their money fairly to construct dams. Furthermore, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called Justice Nisar on Monday and handed over a cheque worth Rs 1billion for the dam fund.