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In addition, uses of water other than agriculture – for domestic use, for industry, for urban areas, and for the environment – should all be incorporated for a robust water policy for Pakistan.

There is a need to recognize that just because certain water-related practices have gone on for centuries does not mean that they are allowed to continue in the face of a world in turmoil.

If that balance is destroyed, then the entire water system is affected and will, over time, be felt right up to the watersheds.

Pakistan is dependent on a single river system and we cannot afford to take any more chances with the water/sediment/salt balance of the Indus Basin.

Pakistan has the largest contiguous irrigation system in the world.

However, owing to the poor state of infrastructure, about two-thirds is lost due to poor transmission and seepage.

According to water specialist Simi Kamal, based on current projections, water availability (per capita) will be 855m3 by the year 2020.

This means that the per capita availability of water will decrease.

We cannot solve a very complex geographical, hydrological, economic and environmental problem through politicking.

The discussion on water distribution, therefore, should be in relation to uses and users, not among political or administrative units.

Witness the women carrying water on their heads for miles in the scorching heat on one hand, and crops under flood irrigation and the cars of the rich being hosed down in the cities, on the other.

An arid country, Pakistan depends heavily on annual glacier melts and monsoon rains.

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There is likely to be a net decrease, rather than an increase in the country’s water resources, due to a number of factors including population growth, climate change, and exploitation of water.