STAFF REPORT LHR: Dr Daanish Mustafa, Prof. of Geography at Kings College London, has questioned the development environment dichotomy in the developing world saying how people can develop without a holistic environment around them.
He was recently speaking on Environment and Water in South Asia, at the Centre for Governance and Policy, Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore.
Dr Mustafa began by exclaiming that there was no such thing as a standalone environment. “Livelihoods, health and the environment are all inextricably linked, it is about life,” he said.
He questioned the present notion where modernity which means technological advances is now central to any concept of development. He gave the example of the Karez system in Balochistan which survived for two thousand years but is now being destroyed by the advent of tube wells and other modern systems.
“There will be no water in the whole of Balochistanin ten years,” Dr Daanish Mustafa, who has written extensively on water issues, warned.
The drying up of the Karezs is causing huge social upheaval in Balochistan, with desertification, breakdown of social capital, community conflict, rural to urban migration and pauperisation. “No wonder Balochistan is in such strife,” Dr Mustafa noted.
In the end, Dr Daanish Mustafa said: “We must change our thinking about water in Pakistan. The Indus system is ecology, not just a water version of Wapda.”
“We must realise that there are real water and security challenges at the sub-national level and that we should not underestimate the importance of culture and social capital realised through water,” he said.