HARD as it may be to believe when you see the images of the monsoon floods that are now devastating Pakistan, the country is actually on the verge of a critical shortage of fresh water. And water scarcity is not only a worry for Pakistan’s population — it is a threat to America’s national security as well.
Given the rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers that feed the Indus River — a possible contributor to the current floods — and growing tensions with upriver archenemy India about use of the river’s tributaries, it’s unlikely that Pakistani food production will long keep pace with the growing population.
It’s no surprise, then, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made Pakistani headlines a few weeks before the flooding by unveiling major water projects aimed at bolstering national storage capacity, irrigation, safe drinking water and faltering electrical power service under America’s new $7.5 billion assistance program. In March, the State Department announced that water scarcity had been upgraded to “a central U.S. foreign policy concern.” Pakistan is at the center of it.
This is because a widespread water shortage in Pakistan would further destabilize the fractious country, hurting its efforts to root out its resident international terrorists. The struggle for water could also become a tipping point for renewed war with India. The jihadists know how important the issue is: in April 2009, Taliban forces launched an offensive that got within 35 miles of the giant Tarbela Dam, the linchpin of Pakistan’s hydroelectric and irrigation system.