–Says Pakistan facing risk of drought by 2025, urges expatriates living in US and Europe to donate at least 1000 dollars for dam fund
–Commends Chief Justice Nisar for starting dams fund but says ‘this was not his job’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called for addressing the water shortage in the country on war footing and urged Pakistanis, especially the ones living abroad, to donate money to the dams fund announced by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
In an “important” 15-minute address to the nation, the prime minister said, “There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems. Our debt today stands at Rs30,000 billion but the biggest problem we currently face is the water crisis.”
“When Pakistan was made, every Pakistani had 5600 cubic metres of water. Today that stands at only 1000 cubic metres,” he said, adding that “we have storage capacity of only 30 days for water when the safe period for water storage is 120 days. India has a capacity of 90 days. This is why making the dam for us is so important.”
Warning of the rapid depletion in Pakistan’s water resources, the premier said the country would face drought-like conditions by 2025 if immediate steps were not taken.
Prime Minister Khan commended Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar for starting the dams fund but said that “this was not his job”.
“This was the job of civilian leaders who knew this was going to swell into a crisis but did nothing to thwart it.”
“I want to take over the fund-raising and want overseas Pakistanis to contribute like they used to do for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital,” he said, urging all overseas Pakistanis to make as many donations as they can to the dams fund in dollars to plug the country’s depleting foreign exchange reserves as well as provide funding to start building dams, which he said he would personally oversee.
“I will safeguard your donations [against misuse],” he promised.
“If every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister cited the example of Egypt, which he said had launched a similar drive to build dams using its own resources.
“They were not getting any external loans; no one will give us any loans from outside either,” he said. “We already have so many loans that we are finding hard to repay, so no one is going to loan us anymore. We alone will have to build this dam, and we can. We just have to make up our minds.”