Prime Minister Imran Khan calls on overseas Pakistanis to donate to dams fund
Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to the nation in a brief televised address on Friday evening to appeal for donations to the dams fund set up by the Supreme Court.
"There is no question that we are faced with several significant problems," the prime minister said as he began the address. "Our debt today stands at Rs30,000 billion but the biggest problem we currently face is the water crisis.
"When Pakistan was made, every Pakistani had 5600 cubic metres of water. Today that stands at only 1000 cubic metres."
"We have storage capacity of only 30 days for water when the safe period for water storage is 120 days. India has a capacity of 90 days. This is why making the dam for us is so important."
Warning of the rapid depletion in Pakistan's water resources, the premier said the country would face drought-like conditions by 2025 if immediate steps were not taken.
"I want to commend Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar [for starting the dams fund], but this was not his job," he said. "This was the job of civilian leaders who knew this was going to swell into a crisis but did nothing to thwart it."
"I want to take over the fund-raising and want overseas Pakistanis to contribute like they used to do for the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital, he said.
The prime minister asked all overseas Pakistanis to make as many donations as they can to the dams fund in dollars to plug the country's depleting foreign exchange reserves as well as provide funding to start building dams, which he said he would personally oversee.
"I will safeguard your donations [against misuse]," he promised.
"If every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves," the prime minister said.
"This fund will only be used for building dams. I know not every overseas Pakistani will be able to give $1,000, especially the ones working in the Middle East. To them, I would say that donate as much as you can. But the overseas Pakistanis in Europe and the United States, I want them to send at least $1,000 or even more if they can," he said.
Read: Why a mega dam project cannot be crowd-sourced
The prime minister cited the example of Egypt, which he said had launched a similar drive to build dams using its own resources.
"They were not getting any external loans; no one will give us any loans from outside either," he said. "We already have so many loans that we are finding hard to repay, so no one is going to loan us anymore. We alone will have to build this dam, and we can. We just have to make up our minds."
"I promise to you that I will safeguard your money," PM Khan added.