Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s revelation that the plan to give arable land on lease is still intact should ring alarm bells. It seems that despite argument to the contrary, the foreign minister is committed to using his clout within the government to go ahead with a plan that is dubious at best. Rich countries that depend heavily on food imports are looking for lands in developing nations to ensure their food security in the coming years in the face of fluctuating prices of foodstuff in the international market. The foreign minister’s argument that the land to be leased is fallow does not stand for a number of reasons.
First, over 10 million hectares of land that is to be leased is situated in Southern Punjab and Sindh, the most water deficient areas. With already dwindling water supplies, which are projected to fall further in the coming years after the construction of Bhasha-Diamer dam, what guarantees can Pakistan give to the investing parties that it will ensure a constant water supply to sustain continuous output at the expense of dehydrating our own people and lands?