Dubai: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan asked overseas Pakistanis to contribute to a fund dedicated to building the Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand dams to combat the massive water shortage the country is facing and large contributions have started to roll in.
Expatriate Pakistanis and celebrities alike have pledged to contribute to the cause with over 2 billion PKR (Dh 59,708,223) already collected according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
Renowned vocalist Atif Aslam has donated 2.5 million PKR (Dh 74,634). He met Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar on Sunday and presented him the cheque, according to Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune.
Prominent journalist Hamid Mir @HamidMirPAK also posted about his and former musician and Pakistan Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporter, Salman Ahmad’s contributions: “Dam fund moving fast: I contributed one million rupees (Dh 29853) in dam fund and @sufisal surprised us with the announcement of 100,000 USD (Dh 367,319) for the fund then directors of GNN Zulqarnain Nawaz Chattha and Zubair Nawaz Chattha announced 5 crores for dam fund.”
Dam fund moving fast:I contributed one million rupees in dam fund and @sufisal surprised us with the announcement of 100000 US dollars for the fund then directors of GNN Zulqarnain Nawaz Chattha and Zubair Nawaz Chattha announced 5 crores for dam fund pic.twitter.com/wM6lCfZuZH— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) September 10, 2018
Pakistani actress Meera, popularly known as ‘Meera Jee’ said that she has given 25,000 PKR (Dh 746) towards the fund, speaking to a local news channel.
The country’s military has also contributed to the cause. On Monday, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar and presented a cheque of 1 billion PKR (Dh 29,854,111) to the latter.
An official announcement was also made through Pakistan Government’s Twitter account: “@pid_gov: Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar in Islamabad and presented him a cheque of over one billion rupees as donation to Supreme Court of Pakistan’s Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dams fund.”
Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa called on Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar in Islamabad and presented him a cheque of over one billion rupees as donation to Supreme Court of Pakistan's Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dams fund. pic.twitter.com/aE792zWXyJ— Govt of Pakistan (@pid_gov) September 10, 2018
Rumours of US-based Pakistani billionaire businessman and philanthropist Shahid Khan donating 1 billion USD (Dh 3,673,250,000) towards the fund are also circulating online. However, the Fulham Football Club owner has not confirmed the news.
Some netizens took the opportunity to highlight how the water scarcity issue has been previously ignored in the country.
Tweep Nadir Ali Qureshi, @Nadir_Qureshi wrote: “This is one of the biggest threat for Pakistan’s stability deliberately ignored by our previous governments….”
However, Ahsan Iqbal, @betterpakistan, former Minister of Interior and Planning and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) member was quick to respond to such sentiments.
He tweeted: “It is incorrect to state that water sector was ignored in the past. Water was identified as a major priority sector by PMLN government under Vision 2025. Number of projects were started. Diamer Bhasha Dam was assigned top most priority....”
Replying to Iqbal’s post, Twitter user Amir Khan, @Moving__Castle wrote in disagreement: “Diamer Bhasha was assigned top most priority (just below Mariam Nawaz Sharif, her media cell, orange line, metro bus, Gullu Butt and so on...) #Ahsan_Iqbal admission of failures is the first step towards correction and improvement.”
Giving an update on the issue, Khan, @ImranKhanPTI tweeted: “Met Chairman WAPDA (Water and Power Development Authority) today and emphasised urgency of building the Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams. I may supervise dams project myself, given the urgency. 45 MAF (Million Acre-Feet) is total water outflow of Pak, of which 80% is in 3 months and only 20% in rest of 9 months.”
Met Chairman Wapda today & emphasised urgency of building the Diamer Bhasha & Mohmand Dams. I may supervise Dams project myself, given the urgency. 45 maf is total water outflow of Pak, of which 80% is in 3 mths & only 20% in rest of 9 mths.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 10, 2018