Pakistan seeks resumption of Ravi water flow from India to maintain ecological balance

Special Pakistan seeks resumption of Ravi water flow from India to maintain ecological balance
Visitors take a leasure ride on a boat in Ravi river in Lahore on November 14, 2021. (AFP/File)
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Updated 14 March 2024
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Pakistan seeks resumption of Ravi water flow from India to maintain ecological balance

Pakistan seeks resumption of Ravi water flow from India to maintain ecological balance
  • Indian media widely reported last month that India had diverted flow of water from Ravi to barrage in Jammu and Kashmir 
  • Pakistani official admits India’s move to divert Ravi water flow is not a violation of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is seeking the resumption of water flow from India via River Ravi to maintain its ecological balance, a top official confirmed on Thursday after India last month reportedly diverted the flow of water to a barrage in the Jammu and Kashmir territory under its control for irrigation purposes. 

Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, which gives control over the waters of the three eastern Indus River tributaries Beas, Ravi, and Sutlej to India, and control over the waters of the three western rivers, the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, to Pakistan. 

Under the treaty, both countries can approach the World Bank for arbitration in case of disputes over the use of water resources.

Indian media widely reported last month that India had diverted the water flow from Ravi to Shahpur Kandi Barrage in Jammu and Kashmir for irrigation purposes. The barrage is set to irrigate around 32,000 hectares of land in the Kathua and Samba districts in Indian-administered Kashmir.

“As part of the treaty, India has exclusive rights over the waters of the Ravi but Pakistan has raised the issue with India for environmental flows to maintain ecological balance,” a senior official of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters told Arab News, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media on the issue.

Environmental flow is a term used to describe the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows that are required to sustain freshwater estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods. 

The official said Pakistan raised the issue of environmental flow with India in the last meeting of Indus Water Commissioners held in New Delhi in May 2022. He said Pakistan was carrying out a study to determine the amount of water flows it needs to maintain the ecological balance. 

“The Punjab Irrigation Department is currently carrying out a study to ascertain quantity and timing of the environmental flow, and then this study will be shared with India for further discussions,” he said.

He admitted that India was under no obligation to accept Pakistan’s demand to release water into the Ravi. “But this is one of the emerging public importance issues that need to be taken care of,” he said. 

Experts said both countries needed to renegotiate the Indus Water Treaty to incorporate crucial elements such as environmental flows to deal with the latest challenges such as climate change. 

“The Indus Water Treaty deals with the surface waters of the rivers only but now the need is to discuss a way out for groundwater, climate change and environmental flow between both countries,” Dr. Pervez Amir, a water expert and council member of the Hisaar Foundation which advocates for water and livelihood security, told Arab News. 

“The treaty should not be static as both countries should show wisdom to address the mutual water challenges through negotiations.”

Arshad Abbasi, a water expert, said environmental flow is crucial to ensure positive effects on River Ravi’s health and to maintain the groundwater level for the future urbanization of Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore. 

Abbasi proposed the minimum environmental flow should be sixteen to eighteen percent of the total Ravi water flow or greater.

He warned that if Pakistan failed to ensure the resumption of water flow from India, it would lead to a decline in Lahore’s water level, besides impacting other cities that rely on groundwater replenished by the Ravi. 

“Pakistan should take the matter to the World Bank for arbitration before India turns Lahore into a desert,” Abbasi warned. 


In crime-ridden Karachi, protecting Eid sacrificial animals is a fulltime job 

In crime-ridden Karachi, protecting Eid sacrificial animals is a fulltime job 
Updated 1 min 14 sec ago
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In crime-ridden Karachi, protecting Eid sacrificial animals is a fulltime job 

In crime-ridden Karachi, protecting Eid sacrificial animals is a fulltime job 
  • Karachi has for decades been beset by violence but crime rates have soared in recent months
  • Rising shooting deaths in muggings, robberies have put fear into people going to cattle markets

KARACHI: Muhammad Shoaib’s life turned upside down earlier this month when he brought home three cows from the local animal market ahead of the Eid Al-Adha holiday. 
Since then, he has built an extra fence and often stays up nights guarding the sacrificial animals himself.
Shoaib’s predicament is common in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub and largest city, grappling with surging crime rates. At least 73 people have been killed in street violence in Karachi this year, according to media tallies, with 29,500 incidents of vehicle and mobile snatchings reported between Feb. and May.
The spike in crime has cast a dark shadow over the festive season.
“We used to just tie the animal and leave it,” Shoaib told Arab News as he fed one of his cows. “But now you can’t leave it unattended.”
A cow in his neighborhood had been stolen during the daytime, he said: 
“When such things are happening during the day, how can one leave the animal unattended?”
And going to cattle markets was also not without risk, as many incidents had been reported of aimals being snatched at gunpoint soon after a sale. 
“The mandi [market] situation is such that it’s scary to go there now,” Shoaib said. “There’s always the fear of security, one is scared because you are taking money with you as well. At the very least, they [the authorities] should provide security in such situations.”

“ENSURE YOUR OWN SAFETY”

Last week, Inspector General of Sindh Police Ghulam Nabi Memon issued directives to secure cattle markets and all the roads leading to them. But when asked for details of the security plan, Karachi Police could not share specific security measures being taken.
Citizens meanwhile said they did not feel secure.
“You should ensure your own safety because neither the government nor the law is supporting you,” Muhammad Faisal, an employee of a private firm, said, advising people to carry their own weapons.
“So if you can ensure your own safety, you can go to the cattle market, whether in a group of four or eight. But you should have your own weapon with you and then go to the cattle market, then you will have no issue.”
Khaizer Muhammad Sohail, a student whose family usually buys animals days before Eid, said they had delayed their purchase this year due to security fears.
“The [main cattle] market is also quite far and we are also hearing that on the way there are robberies happening,” he said. 
Trader Muhammad Shaheer said he had no choice but to hire private guards to ensure the safety of his sacrificial animals.
“These days, street crimes and snatchings have increased so much that one has to consider, ‘I’m buying an animal worth Rs200,000-400,000 ($710-$1,420) so how can I just leave it like that?” he said.
“So, then a person will deploy guards … It’s such a large sum of money, and then it’s also being sacrificed in the way of Allah, and it will be taken away [ by robbers] within a moment. If they took our animals too, then where will we go?”


USA into T20 World Cup Super Eights, Pakistan out, after rain strikes again

USA into T20 World Cup Super Eights, Pakistan out, after rain strikes again
Updated 14 June 2024
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USA into T20 World Cup Super Eights, Pakistan out, after rain strikes again

USA into T20 World Cup Super Eights, Pakistan out, after rain strikes again
  • The match between Ireland and USA was abandoned after a heavy downpour
  • Pakistan were in a precarious situation in the tournament after USA’s shock win

Lauderhill, UNITED STATES: The USA advanced to the Super Eights stage of the T20 World Cup on Friday when their match against Ireland was abandoned, an outcome which meant former champions Pakistan were eliminated.

Ground staff spent hours working to dry the wet outfield at Lauderhill but shortly after the umpires had inspected conditions a huge downpour ended any hope with the field quickly under water once again.

The USA reach the last eight in their debut appearance in the T20 World Cup largely thanks to their shock win over 2009 champions Pakistan.

A USA defeat to Ireland would have handed Pakistan the chance to leapfrog into the top two when they face Ireland at the same venue on Sunday.

Instead, the early exit is a bitter disappointment for Pakistan, who were beaten finalists in the tournament two years ago.

This is the earliest Pakistan have exited T20 World Cup, having played just three games with a defeat to India and their sole victory coming against Canada.

Pakistan were knocked out in the group stage in 2014 and 2016, but on every other occasion made it to the last four of the tournament.

Fans who had waited patiently inside the Central Broward Stadium were instructed to stay in the facility and in shelter due to thunder and lightning which accompanied the torrential rain.

The two teams will receive a point each meaning the USA will progress to the Super Eights along with Group A winners India who are due to play Canada on Saturday in what is now a dead rubber

South Florida has suffered heavy rain and flooding and the game on Tuesday at Lauderhill between Sri Lanka and Nepal was also abandoned.

There were heavy showers earlier on Friday morning which added to the workload which all proved to be in vain.

But while it was not the way they wanted to qualify, the USA team celebrated in their locker-room what is a historic achievement for the associate nation.

“As a cricketer, you don’t want to leave home and not play cricket, you want to play but at the end of the day there was nothing that we could control,” said USA vice-captain Aaron Jones, who was again stand-in skipper in the absence of the injured Monank Patel.

“Definitely we celebrated. Everybody is happy right now, obviously qualifying for the Super Eights is a big deal,” added Jones, who has been the stand-out batter for the USA team.

Jones was vocal before the tournament in insisting the USA were not just happy to be involved but believed they could win games and he said that attitude would continue against the tougher opponents that await.

“I think that on any given day, once we play proper cricket that we can beat any team in the world,” said the New York born Jones, who grew up in Barbados and will return to the Caribbean for the next round of games.

The spot in the last eight also means that the USA have qualified automatically for the 2026 World Cup.


Pakistan signs subsidiary loan agreement after Kuwait Fund commits $100 million for Mohmand Dam

Pakistan signs subsidiary loan agreement after Kuwait Fund commits $100 million for Mohmand Dam
Updated 14 June 2024
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Pakistan signs subsidiary loan agreement after Kuwait Fund commits $100 million for Mohmand Dam

Pakistan signs subsidiary loan agreement after Kuwait Fund commits $100 million for Mohmand Dam
  • Total project financing will be disbursed through four equal payments, each amounting to $25 million
  • Pakistan has been building small-scale hydropower facilities to meet its pressing energy requirements

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Economic Affairs Ministry signed a subsidiary loan agreement of $25 million with the Water and Power Development Authority for the construction of the Mohmand Dam Hydropower Project, being financed by the Kuwait Fund with a $100 million contribution.
Pakistan’s strategy to enhance its energy infrastructure includes a move toward constructing hydropower facilities, supported by multiple international agreements aimed at addressing the country’s pressing energy requirements.
Many of these small-scale projects have also been facilitated under the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, backed substantially by Beijing.
According to Radio Pakistan, the total financing for Mohmand Dam will be disbursed through four equal loans, each amounting to $25 million, with the agreement signed between the two countries earlier this month.
“The Mohmand Dam is a comprehensive infrastructure project designed to address multiple needs,” Radio Pakistan reported. “It aims to generate approximately 2,862 GWH [gigawatt hours] of electricity annually with an installed capacity of 800 MW [megawatts], significantly reducing the existing energy supply gap.”
“Additionally, the dam will create an active storage reservoir with a capacity of about 1,594 million cubic meters, ensuring a reliable and sustained supply of irrigation water,” it continued. “The 213-meter high structure will also play a critical role in flood control, mitigating the risk of flood damage and providing essential flood protection.”
Pakistan and Kuwait agreed to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in recent meetings held between their top officials.
The Kuwait Fund has also actively supported several projects in Pakistan previously, focusing on sustainable development and infrastructural enhancements.


Moody’s highlights Pakistan’s persistent debt issues, says budget to aid IMF negotiations

Moody’s highlights Pakistan’s persistent debt issues, says budget to aid IMF negotiations
Updated 14 June 2024
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Moody’s highlights Pakistan’s persistent debt issues, says budget to aid IMF negotiations

Moody’s highlights Pakistan’s persistent debt issues, says budget to aid IMF negotiations
  • The global credit rating agency points toward additional taxes without significant cost-containment measures
  • It says sustaining economic reforms may become difficult amid risk of social disruption, coalition challenges

KARACHI: A leading global credit rating agency said on Friday Pakistan’s newly announced federal budget was likely to help the country with its ongoing negotiation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), though it highlighted the country’s weak debt affordability and challenge of keeping economic reforms on track.

Moody’s Investors Service issued a brief assessment of Pakistan’s economy two days after Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb presented the $67.76 billion federal budget in which he kept some high ambitious revenue generation targets.

The global agency noted the government sought to achieve quicker fiscal consolidation through increase in revenue, adding their were little spending containment measures.

“The announced budget will likely support Pakistan’s ongoing negotiations with the IMF for a new Extended Fund Facility (EFF) program that will be crucial for the government to unlock financing from IMF and other bilateral and multilateral partners to meet its external financing needs,” it said. “However, it will be the government’s ability to sustain reform implementation that will be key to allowing Pakistan to meet its budget targets and continually unlock external financing to meet its needs, leading to a durable easing of liquidity risks.”

“A resurgence of social tensions on the back of high cost of living (which may increase because of higher taxes and future adjustments to energy tariffs) could weigh on reform implementation,” it added. “Moreover, risks that the coalition government may not have a sufficiently strong electoral mandate to continually implement difficult reforms remain.”

Moody’s noted the government had set a challenging target to increase federal government revenue to PKR17.8 trillion, about 46 percent higher from a year ago.

It noted that this increase was led by a 40 percent increase in tax revenue that the government wanted to achieve through a combination of new taxes and stronger nominal growth.

“At the same time, the budget is targeting an overall federal government expenditure of PKR18.9 trillion, about 25 percent higher than a year ago,” it said. “The increase in expenditure reflects lack of significant cost-containment measures and Pakistan’s very high interest payments.”

It maintained the government had been spending more than half its revenue on interest payments, “indicating very weak debt affordability which drives high debt sustainability risks.”

“Having a significant share of its budget allocated toward debt payments will constrain the government’s capacity to service its debt while meeting essential social spending and infrastructure needs,” it added.


Pakistani anchorman Imran Riaz released from police custody

Pakistani anchorman Imran Riaz released from police custody
Updated 14 June 2024
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Pakistani anchorman Imran Riaz released from police custody

Pakistani anchorman Imran Riaz released from police custody
  • The prominent TV journalist was arrested at Lahore airport earlier this week
  • Riaz, a supporter of ex-PM Imran Khan, has been arrested several times before

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anchor and YouTuber, Imran Riaz, has been released from police custody, his lawyer confirmed on Friday, after he was arrested earlier this week on charges of monetary fraud in a money lending case.

The prominent TV journalist turned promoter of incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party was picked up from the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore on Tuesday night where he had gone to catch a Hajj flight to Saudi Arabia.

“Alhumdulillah [praise be to God], the release has been secured,” Riaz’s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, said in a social media post while sharing a photograph with him.

Riaz, who has more than 5.7 million followers on X and millions more on other social media platforms, took on the Pakistani military and its intelligence agencies after ex-PM Khan was removed from power in April 2022 and blamed the army for being behind his ouster.

He was picked up in May last year and returned home in September, with authorities not indicating where he had been.

He was also arrested in February this year over his alleged involvement in an anti-judiciary campaign on social media.

Human rights groups have widely accused Pakistan’s security agencies of being behind the disappearances of journalists, political workers and activists, allegations that authorities deny.

Pakistan has a controversial record regarding media freedom and the safety of journalists. Media personnel have frequently complained of being targeted by state authorities for their work while some have been attacked and killed, and others have left the country citing threats to their life.

The South Asian country was ranked 150 in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.