PAKISTAN: Keep rivers free movement 

The entire globe is experiencing a water crisis and Asia in general and South Asia in particular are no exception to this phenomenon. These regions are marred with complex and multidimensional aspects of water crises. Not only has the availability of water declined but also its quality has been badly affected.

A deep probe into the issue reveals that unchecked deforestation, destruction of wetlands, dumping of industrial waste into waterways, construction of dams, over exploitation of the major river systems, corporate control on water resources, increasing population and weak water governance have posed serious threats to the life and health of water systems of South Asian Rivers including the Indus River System.

All this has generated various serious offshoots such as destruction of the climate of deltas and their eco systems, degradation of wetlands, unsafe drinking water, decline in availability of per capita water resources, lack of potable water to great numbers of people, droughts and inter and intra state conflicts. And now the proposed construction of Basha dam on the Indus will further damage the environmental flow of this river.

We believe that water is not an infinite reality as is generally viewed. Rather it is finite reality. Potable Water could vanish if it is treated with such narrow minded and myopic corporate approaches. Already available fresh water amounts to less than one-half of one percent of all the water on earth.

The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum also believes that the Earth’s fresh water belongs to the Earth and all species and therefore is not be treated as a private commodity to be bought, sold and traded for profit. Global fresh water is a shared legacy, a public trust, and a fundamental human right and is therefore a collective responsibility.

Therefore, the PFF is going to launch a movement to Keep Indus River System free from more cuts, dam diversions and pollutants.

The following guiding principles will be followed to protect and conserve our scarce water resources and distribute them in a fair and ecologically responsible way:

1.    Struggling for “Keep Rivers Free”
2.    Promotion of “Water Lifeline Constitutions”
3.    Establishment of local “Water Governance Councils”
4.    Fighting for “National Water Protection Acts”
5.    Supporting and strengthening the anti-dam movement
6.    Opposing the commercial trade on water
7.    Agitating against the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank
8.    Challenging the lords of water
9.    Addressing national and regional water equity
10.    Promoting the “Water Commons Treaty Initiative”
11.    Working for Regional and Global Water Convention


The followings are the objectives of the Movement:

1.    To build and strengthen networks at  local, national and regional level  for the protection and restoration of  Indus Rivers System;
2.    To build up wide range of protests against the destructive dam projects;
3.    To promote alternative ways of meeting people’s needs for water and energy through research advocacy and lobbying;
4.    To raise and strengthen our voices for no more dams, no more diversions and no more cuts on Indus River System;
5.    To raise voices for the release of sufficient water for the delta;
6.    To advocate for the  Regional level peoples alliances
7.    To strongly demand release of at least 35 MAF water into downstream Kotri for the protection of endangered Indus Delta;
8.    To strongly demand for reparations for the people affected by existing dams;
9.    To mobilize the people of Pakistan to raise their voices to chant slogans:  “Let’s Reclaim Our Rivers, and Let’s Reclaim Our Rights;
10.    To mobilize and organize dam-affectees of South Asia and civil societies to network with one another and
11.    To run campaigns on mass-mobilization that safe drinking water is a fundamental human right.



About the author: The writer is researcher at Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and can be reached at