ISLAMABAD – China and Saudi Arabia promised to support Pakistan’s efforts to overcome the looming water crisis, officials said on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan held meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Saudi Information and Culture Minister Dr Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad and spoke about ways to further strengthen ties.
Over the weekend, the premier urged overseas Pakistanis to donate at least $1,000 each to overcome the water crisis. He maintained that Pakistanis living in Europe and US could contribute at least $1,000 for future of the country. “Pakistanis working in the Middle East and other countries can also contribute according to their capacity,” he added.
Khan warned that Pakistan could face drought-like conditions by 2025 if dams were not constructed.
Government officials privy to the meetings told The Nation that the two friendly countries had vowed to continue support to Pakistan in all sectors. One official said, “China and Saudi Arabia back government’s efforts for progress. They agreed that water was a big issue for Pakistan. They also promised to help.”
Another official said that Imran Khan would visit China and Saudi Arabia soon. “The two sides will discuss the options to enhance partnership,” he added.
Last week, the Senate Special Committee on Water Scarcity was informed that Pakistan as a water-stressed country had the capacity of storing water for a maximum of 36 days, while the rest of the world could hold water for use for 130 days.
Water Resources Secretary Shumail Ahmed Khawaja said that current available water resources were 138 million acre feet with a storage capacity of 13.7 MAF which was only 10 percent of available water resources. He said that 90-95 percent of Pakistan’s water was being used for irrigation, 50 percent of which was lost during canal diversion.
The United Nations Development Programme and the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources issued warnings in May, predicting the country would run dry by 2025 if water-availability indicators slid further.
In 1990, the Water Resources Council’s research revealed that Pakistan was at the “water stress line,” which was further downgraded to “water scarcity line” in 2005.
River Indus System Authority also warned of an upcoming catastrophe if the country’s storage system did not improve and environmental degradation continued unabated.
PM Imran Khan took over power in August after winning the July 25 general elections. He promised to bring ‘change’ during his election campaign.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Khan said that his country’s friendship with China was time tested. In a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his office, he pledged to enhance partnership. “Both the leaders discussed matters of mutual relation and corporation in diversified fields,” said an official statement.
The premier also held meeting with Saudi Information and Culture Minister Dr Awwad and talked over ways to further strengthen ties. The minister conveyed the message of felicitation to the Prime Minister Imran Khan on behalf of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. He also invited the Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia.
Earlier, Chinese delegation led by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa. The Chinese foreign minister said that Pakistan-China relationship was based on convergence of views and mutual respect. Wang Yi said that the world should acknowledge Pakistan’s efforts towards regional peace and stability. He appreciated security provided to CPEC project and said that China believed in inclusive prosperity.