UAE Seeks to Import Pakistan's Water
Water-scarce Pakistan itself needs to store and use the Dasht River water for development of Balochistan, particularly Gwadar and other related projects as part of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Abdullah Al Shehi, the CEO of GeoWash, has argued that the Dasht River floods annually, which has prompted the Pakistani government to empty the excess water through channels leading to the sea. That excess water, said Mr Al Shehi, could be put to use in the UAE, according to a report in the UAE's newspaper "The National".
Dasht River is located in Makran region and Gwadar District, in the southwestern section of Balochistan Province, in southwestern Pakistan. The Kech River, a seasonal intermittent river, is a tributary of the Dasht River which flows southeast through the Central Makran Range in the Gwadar District of Balochistan into the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea.
Mirani Dam was completed on Dasht River in 2006 to store over 300,000 acre-feet of fresh water to meet the needs of southern Balochistan. Mirani Dam is the largest dam in the world in terms of volume for flood protection with a floodstock of 588,690 cubic hectometer, according to International Commission On Large Dams (ICOLD). This water reservoir is essential for the development of a deep sea port and a major new metropolis in Gawadar as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. In addition to supplying fresh water to Turbat, Jiwani and Gwadar cities, it has sufficient capacity to irrigate over 33,000 acres of farm land.
UAE Water Security:
The United Arab Emirates uses 80% of its fresh water for agriculture in its arid desert and the rest of the 20% for urban needs, according to The National. Here's the key question: Does it make more sense for the UAE to import food rather than grow its own food by importing fresh water? The second question is: Can the UAE focus on desalination for the water it needs for urban use?
Gwadar port was first conceived in late 1950s when Pakistan purchased the region from the Sultanate of Oman. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been talked about since early 1990s. But nothing was done to develop until President Pervez Musharraf allocated time, money and focus to build first several berths at Gwadar deep sea port, Coastal Highway to connect it with Karachi and Mirani Dam in Balochistan to supply water on his watch.
Now water-stressed Pakistan needs to focus on building greater water storage capacity if it's really serious about developing Gwadar, Southwestern Balochistan and the Makran coast. It must not agree to export the Dasht River water to anyone, including the UAE. Instead, it should offer to export food as necessary to meet UAE's needs.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
President Musharraf's Legacy
Mineral Wealth of Balochistan
Pakistan Farm Land Controversy
Recurring Floods and Droughts in Pakistan