Our issue this month looks at some of the long term but crucial challenges that Pakistan needs to address urgently for its survival and prosperity. The new PTI government has been in power for around one month we discuss some of the vital issues that face it.
We sit down with the man in the ‘eye of the storm’, Pakistan’s finance minister, Asad Umar, who holds the fate of the new government in his hands and we bring out his vision on the economy, IMF, privatization and possible reforms a PTI led government is mulling over.
This dovetails with Haroon Sharif’s pithy analysis of how Pakistan needs to leverage itself with international financial institutions. Ali Moeen Nawazish, an educationalist, addresses issues of the education system and Rizwan Mir, CEO Universal Services Fund, tells us what the government needs to do to participate in the 4th industrial revolution that IT services can bring for the economy.
Our special feature is on “Water”, which until recently was seen to be a dry topic and one that excited neither the ruling politicians nor their subject populations – but it should. Recent World Bank reports show that by 2025 Pakistan will be the third most water-stressed country in the world and the topmost in South Asia.
The issue is compounded by the country’s high birth rate, increasing urbanization, rapid deforestation and water-intensive agriculture all of which may turn into a ‘perfect storm’ due to ignorance and lack of political will to address issues urgently. We will continue to discuss these issues at length in the coming months.
It is thus with high hopes that we view the recent initiative by the Chief Justice Saqib Nisar to set up a fund for the Diamer Bhasha dam and the decision by Prime Minister Imran Khan that has now put full weight of the government behind this initiative. Pakistan Army officers alone have deposited more than Rs. 1 billion – a deduction from their salaries.
Our writers have focused on examining the quantum of the water crisis facing the country and what can be done. Omair Ahmed, Managing Editor of The Third Pole based in New Delhi laments how the Indus Treaty acts as a treaty of divorce creating a separation of resources, but water is a common shared resource and optimally should be managed through joint maintenance especially given how worldwide climate changes invariably are affecting both countries.
Saud bin Ahsen working at a Public Policy think tank clarifies exactly how precarious Pakistan’s water situation is for a country that has the world’s fourth-highest rate of water usage. Dr Hassan Abbas, a water expert, argues that the country’s current fixation with dams is not the way forward and the first order of priority should be using Riverine Well Fields to exploit Pakistan’s water resources.
On the other hand, Dr Zafar Bokhari from Chicago State University recommends that Pakistan needs to build hundreds of small dam to improve water storage capacity. Not forgetting the 17th anniversary of 9/11 attacks we have Doug Bandow from the Cato Institute examining what US foreign policy has achieved since then and Imtiaz Gul from CRSS wondering: why is the US still in Afghanistan?
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