Beyond the horizon

Published: June 14, 2018

One of the advantages of a system of interim governance is that it provides a window of opportunity for a modicum of truth-telling. The men and women helming the country were not elected yet carry the burden of whatever the outgoing government left behind, and have a responsibility to hand a reasonably intact governance to whichever party wins the upcoming election — at which point they become redundant and return to relative obscurity. It appears that the current group of interims has wisely decided not to indulge in any blame games, recognising how fruitless this is. Instead, they are acknowledging some hard realities and offering a look over the horizon that may provide a useful to-do list for the incomers.

Water, the lack of and electricity an equal lack of, are on their agenda currently. It is not the fault that successive government failed to build water-storage dams, nor their fault that despite the last government increasing power generation to a point in excess of actual need/consumption, that the power distribution system collapses when additional load is placed upon it. Thus there was slightly less bad news from Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk who spoke of Thursday about an improvement in the water crisis as glacial snows melt and hydel generation is likely to improve in coming days. Pakistan now, somewhat belatedly, has a National Water Policy and this was referred to by Mulk in his briefing. Pakistan could face an absolute water shortage by 2025 and scrambling to revive the Kalabagh dam project — which had it been built could at least have alleviated our current woes — is no solution.

The population is increasing by the minute and people need water and electricity. The interim PM instructed the ministry of water resources to look over the horizon and create a comprehensive plan regarding water-related issues, presumably in line with the National Water Policy. The interim government has a very small window in which to create a legacy, and there is no guarantee that the post-election government is going to take up its recommendations or advice. We can but hope that wisdom trumps politics.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2018.

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