The Perils of Denial: Challenges for a Water-Secure Pakistan

This article is a summary of the chapter by Ali Hasnain Sayed and Muhammad Faizan Usman of World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan and Chelsea Spangler of World Wildlife Fund-US, in the new book, Water, Security and U.S. Foreign Policy.
The river already supports around 215 million people, and populations in the region are growing.
Climate change poses additional risks as temperatures rise, rainfall patterns become increasingly variable, and floods and droughts become more severe.
Decreasing agricultural productivity jeopardizes rural livelihoods and food security; growth of manufacturing and mining sectors is stifled; access to drinking water and sanitation for rapidly urbanizing populations is limited; and waterborne diseases threaten public health.
All economic sectors rely on access to freshwater, but demand is increasing as supply decreases.
Particularly in Pakistan’s larger cities, the industrial and service sectors are growing and there is increasing competition between domestic consumers and businesses, which both rely on the same groundwater resources.
These range from threats to supply chains, to the rise of insurgent groups that pose direct threats to U.S. security.
Public sentiment in Pakistan maintains that unchecked abstraction in India is in violation of the treaty, and in 2016 hostile actions on both sides of the border led to threats of military action and of restricting flow of the river.
Suggested interventions include the following: Provide important technical support to help monitor and manage existing groundwater resources.
Chelsea Spangler is a water and security program associate with the World Wildlife Fund-US.

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