Water, energy crisis in Pakistan
First of all, let us admit that all the problems listed in the title have two things in common: they are made-made; and they are interlinked. Starting on these premises, we proceed direct to the solutions through examples. In December, 2008, when I went to interview Shahbaz Sharif, I asked him to do one thing: invite Jeffrey Sachs, the famous Columbian University Professor who looks at poverty in the world not as a social evil, but clinically, treating it as a disease, needing an urgent and practical cure, and who offers an integrated set of solutions. And if possible, read his book, “The End of Poverty – Economic Possibilities for Our Time”. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs envisions ending poverty from the world by the year 2025. He just does not talk; he offers some down-to-earth workable solutions to the problems infesting the poor, Third World countries. Prof. Jeffrey Sachs practically worked and helped the people of countries like Poland, Bolivia, Russia, India, China, Malawi, and Ethiopia, and his success in Poland, India, and Malawi is a text-book case. Currently, Pakistan faces three major problems.
There is acute shortage of energy, which is also related to water and to the health problem of the people there. Some do not like Jeffrey Sachs’ shocking revelations when he says, “Newspapers should, (but don’t) report every morning, ‘More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty’ ”. He believes that there should be a “comprehensive package of economic reforms that attempts to fix all problems simultaneously and quickly”. Some call it absurd, but the fact of the matter is that this is what the poor want. They do not want sermons or speeches; they want simple, quick and workable solutions. Second: and again it is not very much liked by the West, “The West should always give a lot of money to support these packages”. Poor are poor, not because, they are lazy by nature or that they are in love with poverty; they are poor because they are caught up in a poverty trap”. His cry that the world economy has run into a brick wall fell flat on the world conscience. Nations that do not think ahead suffer. He names four factors that often result in the poverty of people in the developing countries: • Chronically low productivity of farmers caused by their inability to pay for seeds, fertilizers and irrigation. • Misguided policies, followed in the US and the European countries to convert food crops, like corn into bio-fuels, such ethanol; • A climate change, such as in Australia and Europe, resulting in global low production in grain in 2005 and 2006; • A growing demand for food and feed grains due to a swelling increase in the populations and incomes. What worked in Malawi, a famine-prone country in southern Africa, can work in Pakistan as well and in the third world countries. First: help the farmers to procure fertilizers and high-yield seeds by subsidizing the cost. It is a benign investment, and not wastage of money. Malawi’s harvest doubled after just one year. Second: Europe and the US abandon their policies of subsidizing the conversion of food into bio-fuels. For example, the US gives, according to him, 51C per gal. of ethanol to divert corn from the food and feed-grain supply. It is just not right to “put the world’s dinner into the gas tank”. Third: “We need to weatherproof the world’s crops as soon and as effectively as possible”, and by this he means conserve every drop of water by even creating farm ponds, “Chappars”, let alone go waste the fresh, sweet water of the rivers into the Arabian Sea, as Pakistan and its politicians are letting it happen. By conserving water, and distributing it in a just and equitable manner among the farmers of Pakistan, and not letting the big and powerful vaderas and landlords of Sindh and Punjab, steal it; and by providing high-yield seeds to the farmers along with fertilizers on very cheap rates, the nation can have a boom of...
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