Mahin Karim
Nontraditional Security Treats in Pakistan
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh
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  his NBR Special Report on “Nontraditional Security Treats in Pakistan” is the second
in a series of reports to be published in 2011–12, drawing on papers emerging from NBR’s
project on “Nontraditional Regional Security Architecture for South Asia.” Funded by the
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Asia Security Initiative, this three-year
(2009–12) project examines opportunities for cooperation on shared nontraditional security
concerns as potential building blocks toward developing a viable regional security architecture
for South Asia. Te project invites participation from a diverse group of experts from Bangladesh,
India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Maldives, China, and the United States for a series of regional
workshops, the third and fnal of which will be held November 8–9, 2011, in partnership with the
Institute of Peace and Confict Studies in New Delhi.
Tis essay by Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, prepared for the project’s frst phase (2009–10), examines critical
challenges faced by Pakistan today related to climate change, increasing population and urbanization,
and food and water security. Much of the recent press on Pakistan has focused on terrorism and
other threats to political stability—both emerging from as well as besetting the country—and the
complex conundrum of U.S.-Pakistan relations given the country’s strategic signifcance in the
AfPak context. However, Sheikh’s essay draws needed attention to other challenges that, if not
addressed in the near future, could contribute to conditions that further exacerbate Pakistan’s
internal security situation, with potentially serious repercussions for broader regional stability and
security. As Sheikh points out, the communities most adversely afected by climate change and
increasing food and water insecurity are those “segments of society that are at or below the poverty
line.” Coupled with burgeoning population growth and a signifcant youth bulge, Pakistan’s looming
nontraditional security challenges ofer a potential recipe for disaster by aggravating the country’s
existing traditional security problems.
At the same time, the regional implications of the issues discussed by Sheikh, particularly
vis-à-vis the impact of climate change on South Asia’s food and water security scenarios, provide
countries with the critical impetus and, hopefully, opportunities to collaborate on addressing
these challenges. In advocating that “South Asian countries work together to adopt ecosystem-
wide approaches that incorporate transboundary strategies,” Sheikh draws attention to an
important dimension of the nontraditional security challenges faced by South Asia today. Such
threats, because they will afect the region as a whole, will require that countries cooperate to fnd
a regional solution.
Mahin Karim
Senior Associate, Political and Security Afairs, NBR
Research Director for the NBR Nontraditional Security in South Asia project
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ALI TAUQEER SHEIKH is the founding CEO of Leadership for Environment and
Development (LEAD) in Pakistan. Mr. Sheikh has written extensively on issues of
environmental management in professional journals and contributed to leading
newspapers in the United States, United Kingdom, and Pakistan. He has served
as a consultant or advisor to the UN Development Programme; UN Educational,
Scientifc and Cultural Organization; UN Environment Programme; UN Economic
and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacifc; Asia Foundation; Rockefeller
Foundation; and Asian Development Bank. Mr. Sheikh has served on the boards
of several organizations and is a member of various national and international
committees and commissions dealing with the environment and sustainable
development, including the Pakistan Environmental Protection Council, chaired by
the prime minister of Pakistan. He can be reached at <>.
Nontraditional Security Treats
in Pakistan
Ali Tauqeer Sheikh
This essay examines Pakistan’s most significant nontraditional security challenges,
including climate change, increasing population and urbanization, food security, and
water security.
- Climate change will negatively afect human activities and livelihoods in Pakistan through
increasingly frequent extreme weather events and changes in temperature and precipitation.
A rise in extreme weather has already led to an alarming increase in the number of people
killed, injured, or made homeless.
- Pakistan's large population and high growth rate adversely afect all aspects of society, the
economy, and the environment. Population growth creates and exacerbates vulnerabilities
by endangering basic civic amenities, leading to a lack of clean water and space for housing
and ultimately burdening society.
- Growth in agricultural productivity has broadly kept pace with accelerating demand.
However, medium-term food security challenges will become far more daunting if
immediate attention is not paid to managing water resources, both underground and in
the Indus Basin river system.
- Water security is the most serious challenge for Pakistan due to several factors, particularly
the increasing pressure of population growth and urbanization, massive expansion of
tube-well irrigation, reduced levels of precipitation caused by climate change, and the
accelerated retreat of Himalayan glaciers.
- Pakistan can mitigate the adverse efects of natural disasters through early warning systems,
technological advances in building and infrastructure construction, improved sanitation
systems, increased disaster preparedness, and an organized health sector response.
- Expanding and enhancing the information and knowledge base on climate change, as well
as mapping vulnerabilities, trends in internal migration, and the incidence of disease, can
help create adaptive measures for reducing the efects of climate change.
- Te successful implementation of mechanisms to address nontraditional security issues
will require that South Asian countries work together to adopt ecosystem-wide approaches
that incorporate transboundary strategies.
outh Asia faces numerous nontraditional security (NTS) threats that in most cases predate
the conventional security problems in the region. NTS threats make many conventional
security challenges intractable, as regional conficts are frequently rooted in the division or
management of natural resources, ethnic divides, or ecosystem bifurcations. Te progress in
managing, let alone resolving, these NTS threats has been slow, primarily because the negotiating
parties do not view them in the broader context of ecological civilization or ecosystem integrity.
South Asia as a region has been slow in developing regional approaches to address NTS issues.
Modest beginnings by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) still
require political will, resource allocation, and operational mechanisms. Recent eforts to develop
shared positions on climate change have received a lukewarm response. Moreover, cracks in the
negotiating position of the UN group of 77 (G-77) have further divided South Asia on climate
change. Each country seems to be struggling on its own to address its climate vulnerabilities, just
the way they have earlier dealt with other specifc threats.
Tis essay discusses Pakistan’s most signifcant NTS challenges. Te frst section discusses
climate change and how it has begun to disturb dynamic equilibriums that exist in the natural
systems of the region. Te essay then draws attention to vulnerabilities linked to increasing
population, urbanization, poverty, and ecosystem degradation. Te third section places Pakistan’s
food security challenge in historical context and presents some trends in food production. Finally,
the essay concludes by highlighting structural constraints on water security.
Climate Change Security
With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) conservatively projecting the
average world surface temperature to increase from 1.4°C to 5.8°C over the course of the 21st
it is evident that alterations in the planet’s ecological, biological, and geological system
will not only continue but also intensify. Te climate will continue to change even if countries
dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Existing research indicates that climate change
will have direct and immediate impacts, such as the increased frequency and intensity of extreme
weather events, as well as indirect and long-term impacts through changes in temperature
and precipitation levels. Tese impacts will inevitably afect human activities and livelihoods.
Assessments of global climate change are thus especially important for enabling a developing
country such as Pakistan to deal efectively with both short-term climatic variability and long-
term climatic conditions.
Extreme Weather Events in Pakistan
In Pakistan, low-probability and high-impact events such as foods, droughts, storms, and
cyclones are now increasing in frequency. An analysis of data for the past 60 years, taken from
the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), shows that the number of natural
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), IPCC Tird Assessment Report: Climate Change 2001 (Charleston: BiblioGov, 2001).
disasters per decade has increased considerably over the last two decades (see Table 1).
incidentally is the period during which average global temperatures have been the highest; in fact,
the 1990s are considered to be the warmest decade since the mid-eighteenth century.
Rising average temperatures have also led to an alarming increase in the number of people
killed, injured, or made homeless. To a large extent, this trend can also be attributed to changes
in environmental conditions, such as deforestation (leading to heightened food risk), population
growth, and a greater concentration of people living in high-risk areas. For instance, impoverished
and high-density populations in low-lying and environmentally degraded areas, such as coastal
Sindh, are particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones. Likewise, large shanty towns with fimsy
habitations can be found throughout the Indus Basin on land subject to frequent fooding. With
increasing migration to the country’s major cities, the land available to poor communities around
major cities has fewer natural defenses against weather extremes.
Although the frequency and intensity of extreme climate events are expected to increase with
accelerated global warming, Pakistan can avoid or mitigate the adverse efects of natural disasters
primarily through improved structural and nonstructural measures. Tese measures include
advancements in early warning systems, technological advances in the construction of buildings
and infrastructure, better sanitation systems, increased disaster preparedness, and an organized
and planned response from the health sector.
Te Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) was established in 1988 in Germany to maintain a database of natural
and technical disasters occurring in the South Asian and South East Asian countries from 1900 onward. Te center classifes an event
as a disaster when it fulflls one or more of the following criteria: (1) ten or more people are killed; (2) one hundred or more people are
afected; (3) a state of emergency has been declared; or (4) a call for international assistance has been made. Information about such events
is obtained from the concerned country's government or UN agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent, NGOs, insurance agencies, research
institutes, and press agencies based in that country.
T A B L E 1 Number of natural disasters in Pakistan over six decades
Year Disasters
Storms Tropical cyclones Floods Droughts Total
1941–50 0 1 1 0 2
1951–60 0 0 5 0 5
1961–70 0 2 2 0 4
1971–80 1 0 6 0 7
1981–90 3 0 6 0 9
1991–2000 6 2 14 1 23
2001–10 4 1 31 0 36
Total 14 6 65 1 86
S O U R C E : Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
N O T E : CRED maintains a global database, called EM-DAT, of natural and technical disasters from 1900 onward.
Changes in Temperature and Precipitation and Consequences for Pakistan
Te increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrate derived from anthropogenic sources
has produced measurable changes in the global climate since preindustrial times. Rising global
mean annual temperatures and reduced precipitation levels are two examples of changes attributed
to anthropogenic emissions. Afer reviewing temperature changes in Pakistan over the last
three decades (1961–90), the Pakistan Meteorological Department has arrived at climate change
scenarios that illustrate the likely impact of greater warming in the entire region.
According to these observations, northern areas of Pakistan, western parts of Baluchistan, and
coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan experienced greater temperature increases compared to
other regions, in summer as well as winter. Tis basically means that these regions experienced
warmer summers and less intense winters. Tis scenario is of particular concern in the northern
areas where an increase in temperature means an increase in glacier melt.
Further, the data
shows that the northern areas of Pakistan and western parts of the North-West Frontier Province
(NWFP) received less rainfall both during the monsoon season and in winter. On the other hand,
upper and central Punjab received more rainfall both in winter and during monsoon season. An
increase in precipitation levels has also been observed during monsoon season in the coastal areas
of Sindh and Baluchistan.
Likewise, a study carried out by Deutsche Gesellschaf für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)
for the Water and Power Development Authority to analyze trends in temperature and precipitation
in the northern areas for the last century found that seasonal and annual temperatures have risen
over the last century in Skardu.
Te mean annual temperature has increased by 1.4°C, with the
mean annual daily maximum rising by more than 2.33°C. Winter temperatures have risen far
more than summer temperatures, with an increase of up to 0.51°C in winter maximums per
decade since 1961. Such higher temperatures might cause an upward shif of almost four hundred
meters in the frost line, afecting precipitation patterns and the snowpack, which is a major source
of water for many rivers during the summer. Te World Glacier Monitoring Service indicates that
mountain glaciers in the Karakorams have been diminishing for the last 30 years. In addition,
experts believe that water fow in rivers increased during the decade of 1990–2000 in comparison
to 1975–90, which means more ice melted upstream. Tis fnding is consistent with research
indicating that some glaciers in Pakistan have retreated signifcantly in recent years.

Te climate change scenarios listed above point toward a future marked with increases in
temperature, a general reduction in precipitation levels, and higher variability in rainfall
distribution. Coastal areas will be at greater risk as cyclonic activity increases due to rising sea
surface temperatures. Te frequency and intensity of extreme events such as foods and droughts
will also increase due to the increased variability of monsoons. Winter rains and the rate of
glacier lake outburst foods will similarly increase due to rising temperatures in the country’s
northern areas.
Te given scenario is in line with the fndings presented in Task Force on Climate Change, Planning Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan’s
Climate Change Policies and Actions (Islamabad, September 2009). Tis report highlights trends in annual patterns of temperature and
precipitation over the last century (1900–2000) and in seasonal patterns of temperature and precipitation over the last 50 years (1951–2000).
David R. Archer, “Te Climate and Hydrology of Northern Pakistan with Respect to Assessment of Flood Risks to Hydropower
Schemes," Deutsche Gesellschaf für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority
(unpublished report, 2001).
Also see Muhammad Waseem Ashiq, Chuanyan Zhao, Jian Ni, and Muhammad Akhtar, ¨GIS-Based High-Resolution Spatial Interpolation
of Precipitation in Mountain-Plain Areas of Upper Pakistan for Regional Climate Change Impact Studies,” Teoretical and Applied
Climatology 99, no. 3-4 (January 2010): 239–53.
While this picture is not encouraging, improving the quality of information and expanding the
general knowledge base about climate change can strengthen the country’s long-term planning
and coping abilities and also help us better understand the resulting challenges to food and water
security. Mapping Pakistan’s vulnerabilities, internal migration trends, and new incidents of
diseases such as malaria are also important areas of research that beneft from this type of data
on climatic changes. Tis information has the potential to better inform the planning of adaptive
measures directed toward reducing the adverse efects of climate change on both the human
population and human activities.
Increasing Population and Urbanization
Pakistan has a large population and a high growth rate that further contributes to high density,
the country’s youth bulge, and rapid urbanization. Pakistan’s population boom has adversely
afected all aspects of social, economic, and environmental life. Te population has grown by 350%
since independence in 1947, and it is estimated that Pakistan will be the second-largest contributor
to global population growth afer China, with a contribution of 133 million people by 2025.
Population growth in Pakistan creates and exacerbates vulnerabilities by endangering basic
civic amenities, leading to a lack of clean water and proper housing, and ultimately resulting in
a greater burden on society. What is ofen not well appreciated is that most growth occurs in the
segments of society that are at or below the poverty line, survive in a subsistence economy, and
live in fragile ecosystems or low-lying, hazard-prone areas. As is increasingly evident, Pakistan’s
ecosystems are stretched to the limits of their carrying capacity, with several species having
become either extinct or threatened. Te diminished capacity of local ecosystems restricts the
availability of natural resources, alters the patterns of people’s livelihoods, and reduces the ability
of Pakistanis to cope with other NTS threats.
Additionally, as the National Disaster Management Authority reported,
Increased population has pushed people to move and live in hazard prone
locations, which were traditionally considered as un-inhabitable; e.g. food
plains, steep slopes and coastal areas. Population growth in upstream locations
has increased the demand for fuel wood, fodder and timber, which leads to
uncontrolled forest cutting, and causes intensifed erosion and higher peak
fows. Tis results in severe fooding in densely populated plains. Population
density in hazard prone regions also means greater loss of life and property
in case of disasters. If the population growth trends continue at current rates,
a far greater number of people would be living in areas prone to earthquakes,
foods and droughts in the coming years.

Pakistan is the most urbanized country in South Asia, with its cities expanding at a faster
rate than the overall population. Te “National Disaster Management Framework for Pakistan”
estimates that whereas the overall population increased by only four times from 1951 to 1998, the
urban population rose by seven times during the same period, from 17.8% of the total population
¨National Disaster Risk Management Framework for Pakistan," National Disaster Management Authority, Government of Pakistan,
March 2007, 9.
Ibid., 9.
in 1951 to 33% in 1998.
Nearly half the urban population is believed to be living in shanty towns
or unplanned settlements, where city governments have mostly failed to provide amenities such
as public transportation, hospitals, schools, drinking water, and sanitation. Not only is the overall
vulnerability of urban settlements ofen as high as in rural areas, but the level of resilience in
urban areas tends to be lower.
Numerous studies have documented that investments in education to achieve higher literacy
levels and keep young girls in school help reduce the population growth rate. Likewise, broadening
and strengthening livelihood options and opportunities in agricultural and rural economies
help curtail the massive infux to major cities. High growth rates and the accompanying rapid
urbanization are thus partially a consequence of poor investments in the education sector and the
inequitable path of economic development pursued in Pakistan over the last fve decades.
Food Security
A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of
starvation. Te numbers for Pakistan are dismal. Projections for the year 2030 begin with the
alarming increase in Pakistan’s population growth from 170 million to 220 million. Such a rise
will boost urbanization, further changing the ratio of urban to rural population from 35/65 to
51/49. Understandably, the incidence of poverty will become higher in urban areas than in rural,
and urbanization will likely further reduce the availability of fertile land. Te globalized world
will also infuence national food habits, consumption patterns, and lifestyles. Last, climate change
will bring with it irregular rainfall patterns, further stressing agricultural yield and threatening
food security. Famine conditions are expected in some agro-climatic zones as irrigation supplies
decrease, leading to erratic supply and a steadily increasing shortage of water.
Te concept of food security has changed signifcantly since the early 1970s. During the
global food crisis of the 1970s, the focus was on supply-side issues of availability, volume,
and price stability. A decade later, in the 1980s, the concept expanded to include the access of
vulnerable groups to available supplies. Tis debate drew attention to the temporal dynamics of
food security—chronic versus transient food insecurity. Transitory food insecurity is associated
with inadequate access to or availability of food during the of-season, as well as in drought and
infationary years. In contrast, R. Radhakrishna and K. Venkata Reddy observe that “the problem
of chronic food insecurity is primarily associated with poverty and arises due to continuously
inadequate diet.”
In the mid-1990s, the mainstream debate began to analyze the importance of
food safety in the broader context of nutritional balance and the availability of food preferences.
Te UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has ambitiously defned food security as
“exist[ing] when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufcient, safe, and
nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

Consequently, there has been considerable reconstruction of the concept of food security as well
as mainstream views of it over the past 30 years. Today food security has become a multifaceted
and multidisciplinary concept that for a country like Pakistan must include four dimensions:
“National Disaster Risk Management Framework,” 10.
See R. Radhakrishna and K. Venkata Reddy, ¨Food Security and Nutrition: Vision 2020," Planning Commission, Government of India,
Background Paper, 1,
Te State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001 (Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2001), 49.
availability, physical and economic access, stability of supplies and access, and safe and healthy
food utilization. Vulnerability has also become a very important element of food security and
refers to the full range of factors that place people at risk of becoming food-insecure. Te FAO’s
Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems group (FIVIMS) lists the
four areas of potential vulnerability in Pakistan as socioeconomic and political environment,
performance of the food economy, care and feeding practices, and health and sanitation.
Pakistan’s present as well as future food security or vulnerability status will hinge on a number
of factors, such as declining productivity and income from traditional crops, a high dependence
on imported food, a growing incidence of food related diseases, an increase in poverty from 22%
to 27%, a high percentage of income spent on food, and a global food price surge. Te scope of this
essay does not allow for an assessment of each of these factors, in that each is complex, dynamic,
and linked to the other factors. For example, the decline in productivity in Pakistan is one of the
major factors contributing to food insecurity and is in itself a product of several challenges:
- low water availability due to the lack of water-resource management and development
- low water-use efciency from feld fooding and poor watercourse lining
- weak management policy in terms of pricing, restrictions, smuggling, and storage losses
- resource degradation, including the depletion of the water table, water logging, and increased
- weak factor productivity for fertilizer and seeds
- insufcient diversifcation into high-value production or value addition
- a weak extension system
- low investment in R&D
- the challenges posed by climate change, including droughts, drug-resistant pests and diseases,
foods, storms, and shifs in cropping patterns
Pakistan’s Current Crop Production
Generally, Pakistan's crop-production pattern has kept pace with the tremendous population
growth and showed signifcant increases in major crops. Te country’s two major crops—wheat
(important for domestic consumption) and rice (important also for foreign exchange earning)—
witnessed jumps of 699% and 1,010% respectively, and per hectare yields achieved impressive
records. Yield improvements from 1948 to 2008 show maize and wheat topping the charts with
record increases of 366° and 303° respectively. Wheat yields grew from 848 kilograms per
hectare (kg/ha) to 2,585 kg/ha, whereas maize grew from 986 to 3,610 kg/ha. Rice yields witnessed
an increase of 268%, from 877 to 2,346 kg/ha, followed by sugarcane, with a 168% increase from
29,000 to 48,634 kg/ha.
Focusing further on wheat production trends in Pakistan, the crop experienced three very
important phases from 1947 to 2009. Starting in 1947 with the use of traditional varieties, wheat
production grew steadily until 1967. From this year on, high-yielding varieties and improved water
supply (because of the construction of the Tarbela Dam) further increased the yield from 4.3 to 9.1
“FAO and FIVIMS,” Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS),
M. Mohsin Iqbal, M. Arif Goheer, and Arshad M. Khan, ¨Climate-Change Aspersions on Food Security of Pakistan," Science Vision 15, no. 1
(January–June 2009): 15–23.
million tonnes (mt) by 1977. A wheat rust epidemic hit Pakistan from 1977 to 1978, damaging the
crop and lowering the yield to 8.3 tons per hectare (t/ha). Te National Coordinated Wheat Program
implemented in 1978 has led to a steady increase in wheat yields, which in 2009 stood at 24 t/ha.
On the basis of the balance between wheat supply and demand for the period May 2008–April
2009, a 2008 UN interagency mission stated that Pakistan’s domestic availability was 21 mt.
Utilization, which includes food, feed, and seed usage, equaled 24 mt with signifcant losses of 1.4
mt. According to this data, both formal and informal exports lie at 2 mt, whereas imports exceed
this amount by 0.75 mt. Tus, investments in reducing only 50% of waste could signifcantly
reduce the need to import wheat.
The Future of Agricultural Productivity
Recent trends show that the rate of growth in yields as well as agricultural productivity has
begun to slow down. Has Pakistan reached the level beyond which its food security will be in
serious jeopardy and its food supply unable to keep pace with growing demand? Tis question
can be viewed from two interrelated angles. Te frst is whether there is internal evidence of a
substantial increase in productivity, and the second is whether there are any global benchmarks
that can provide clues about future production levels.
Some studies show that progressive farmers in Pakistan are achieving far higher yields than
the national average. During the past three years, their yields were nearly twice, and in the case
of sugarcane four times, the average yield.
In other words, if progressive practices were used as a
benchmark, upscaled, and replicated, the future of food security may not be as bleak in the short-
to medium-term. Whether Pakistan can avail itself of this window of opportunity and what kind
of policy, management, and technology innovations would be necessary to do so are beyond the
scope of this essay.
Likewise, Pakistan could respond to its food security challenge by benchmarking its
agricultural policies and practices against those of countries growing similar crops. In 2007 the
FAO published statistics comparing major crop yields in Pakistan with yields in several other
countries. Pakistan’s rice, maize, and sugarcane yields—at 3.19, 3.24, and 53.2 t/ha, respectively—
were below the world average. Neighboring India produced almost the same yields as Pakistan,
with a diference in sugarcane yield. Te yields in China were twice those in Pakistan, while Egypt
held the highest position with yields of 9.97, 8.12, and 119.6 t/ha in rice, maize, and sugarcane,
respectively. Countries such as the United States, Mexico, and France also achieved much higher
yields than Pakistan for all three crops.
Compare, for example, Pakistan’s wheat production with that of provinces or countries with
similar agricultural systems such as Indian Punjab, Egypt, and Mexico, as well as the United
Kingdom and France. Te province of Punjab in neighboring India produced wheat yields of 4.18
t/ha in 2007, almost twice as much as in Pakistani Punjab (2.78 t/ha). On the whole, the United
Kingdom, France, and Egypt had wheat yields nearly three times that of Pakistan’s (7.34, 6.25, and
6.48 t/ha, respectively). Mexico had a yield of 4.98 t/ha the same year. In other words, benchmarks
Iqbal, Goheer, and Khan, ¨Climate-Change Aspersions on Food Security of Pakistan."
¨High Food Prices in Pakistan: Impact Assessment and the Way Forward," UN Inter-Agency Assessment Mission, July 2008, 13-14,
Te average wheat and rice yields in Pakistan stand at 2.6 t/ha and 2.1 t/ha, respectively, whereas yields from progressive farming are 4.6 t/ha
and 3.8 t/ha. Tis accounts for a yield gap of 44% for wheat and 46% for rice. Sugarcane has the highest yield gap of 73%, leaving signifcant
room for improvement if better technologies are incorporated. Maize follows with a yield gap of 59%, with the yield from progressive
farming being three times the average yield.
and technologies exist that can enable Pakistan to produce much higher yields in order to meet
its food security challenges. More active exchange of information and systematic collaboration in
agricultural research between Indian and Pakistani Punjab, for example, could contribute toward
comparable yields in some crops. Te prospects of regional and global collaboration and learning,
therefore, ofer an opportunity for Pakistan to leap forward and meet its growing food security
challenges in the coming decades.
Even with major stresses such as reduced irrigation supplies and the loss of fertile land to
nonagricultural uses, Pakistan may still have the potential to produce substantially higher
quantities of agricultural commodities. Perhaps the frst, if not the only, step toward improving
food security will come from increased domestic production and substantially higher agriculturally
led economic growth, reduced poverty, and an improved quality of life index for its population.
For Pakistan to reach these milestones, though, it needs scientifcally led agriculture with vastly
improved management.
However, the coming changes in climate will pose a new set of challenges for food security,
requiring altogether diferent responses. In order to comprehend the varying impact of climate
change, the agro-climatic zones of Pakistan can be divided into two sections: northern Pakistan
and southern Pakistan. Northern Pakistan can be further divided into mountainous (humid) and
sub-mountainous (sub-humid) regions, whereas the southern section mainly comprises arid and
semi-arid plains. Although there are no detailed studies of how climate change will afect various
agro-climatic zones, modeling by the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) has shown
that over a period of time climate change will have diferent efects over the regions delineated
above. Results suggest that a rise in temperature will reduce the length of the wheat growing
season in northern and southern Pakistan, although the wheat yield will be diferent according to
the area in which it is grown.
To elaborate, the wheat growing season in northern Pakistan is 246 days in length for humid
areas and 161 for sub-humid areas, whereas the plains in southern Pakistan have a shorter growing
season of 146 days for semi-arid areas and 137 for arid areas. Hypothetically, if the temperature
were to rise by 1°C, the growing season in northern Pakistan would fall from 246 to 232 days and
from 161 to 155 days, respectively. Likewise, for southern Pakistan, the season would decline to
140 days for semi-arid areas and 132 days for arid areas. If the temperature were to increase by
5°C, the growing season would be further shortened by approximately 30 days for each area.
On the other hand, a look at the efects of temperature increases on wheat yields in diferent
agro-climatic zones presents a slightly diferent picture, provided other factors remain constant.
Interestingly for the humid areas in northern Pakistan, an increase of 5°C will cause wheat yields
to grow from 2,600 to 3,500 kg/ha. Tis step increase will begin to slow down or taper of once
the increase in temperature is four degrees or more. For the sub-humid region however, the same
increase will cause yields to fall from 3,000 to 2,100 kg/ha. Likewise, for southern Pakistan’s main
wheat-growing areas in the semi-arid zone, wheat yields will fall from 4,000 to 3,200 kg/ha and
from 4,400 to 3,400 kg/ha in arid areas.
Although the short- to medium-term accuracy of predictions based on long-range modeling
is far from certain, the above discussion does point to acute vulnerability and food insecurity
scenarios that could perhaps best be addressed by investing in R&D on heat- and carbon-resistant
varieties of wheat.
Iqbal, Goheer, and Khan, ¨Climate-Change Aspersions on Food Security of Pakistan."
Water Security
Pakistan has rapidly transitioned from a water-surplus country to one of the most water-
scarce countries in South Asia. Per capita water availability plunged from 5,300 to 1,100 cubic
meters per annum over little more than fve decades. Assuming that current rates of decreasing
water supply and increasing water consumption continue, a further decline to 1,000 cubic meters
per capita is expected around 2010, ofcially degrading Pakistan to the category of a water-
defcient country (see Table 2).
Several factors compound Pakistan’s water security challenges, particularly the increasing
pressures of population and urbanization; the massive expansion of tube-well irrigation that
has resulted in severe groundwater depletion, water logging, and salinity; and the adverse
efects of climate change, including reduced levels of precipitation and the accelerated retreat of
Himalayan glaciers.
Pakistan’s dependence on a single river system is another important threat to its water security.
Te Indus Basin, which is home to the Indus River system containing an estimated 180 billion
cubic meters of water, depends heavily on the glaciers of the western Himalayas. Tese glaciers
act as a reservoir as they capture water from snow and rain and then release it into the basin that
feeds the Indus Basin downstream. Tese western glaciers are no exception to the global trend of
melting snowcaps.
Accounting for about 70% of the Indus’s water fow, they are believed to be
receding at a pace of 10–15 meters per year and could be all but gone by 2050 according to some
experts. Te emptying of glacial reservoirs will in all probability worsen fooding and drainage
problems in the short term. In the medium- to long-term, it is also expected to drastically reduce
river fows, possibly by as much as 30%–40% in the Indus Basin.
A decrease in average river fows would seriously afect Pakistan’s agricultural production, given
that 95% of the country’s fresh water is used for irrigated agriculture that supports the livelihoods
of more than 70% of the population.
With Pakistan using almost 100° of the available fresh
water, a shortage of available water for irrigation is expected to create an estimated 12 mt defcit in
grain production by 2013.

Another issue is that Pakistan has very little water storage capacity, estimated at only 150 cubic
meters, compared to over 5,000 cubic meters of storage capacity per inhabitant in the United
States and Australia and 2,200 cubic meters in China.
Similarly, neighboring India has twice
the water storage capacity of Pakistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been able to build only two
large reservoirs over the past several decades. To make matters worse, serious diferences on
water distribution and sharing persist among the various provinces. In addition, the Himalayas
are relatively young and therefore discharge high silt loads. For Pakistan, this means high
siltation in its waterways and reservoirs. Its two large reservoirs are silting rapidly, diminishing
the existing storage capacity. Terefore, the long-term challenge of reservoir siltation is twofold:
limited reservoir capacities and a shorter lifespan of capacities even when investments are made to
augment them.
See John Briscoe and Usman Qamar, Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry (Oxford: World Bank and Oxford University Press, 2003),
¨National Water Sector Strategy," Pakistan Ministry of Water and Power, Pakistan Water Sector Strategy, vol. 2, October 2002, ii,
¨Kalabagh Dam Project," Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority, 2,
Tis discussion is based on World Bank analysis of data from the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD).
Siltation also causes further problems beyond those of reservoirs. As silt builds up, rivers seek
lower lands and change their courses. As a result, silt-laden rivers like the Indus play havoc with
human lives and settlements. Such rivers are confned by embankments to relatively narrow beds,
but the beds keep getting higher and shallower due to silt build-up. Soon the river is above the level
of the land, as is the case in the lower parts of Sindh. Over time, the likelihood of embankment
breaching increases. No wonder the data shows that the incidence of such fooding and the damage
caused by it have been increasingly high, including in big cities.
Te existing water-management system has not been able to cope with the increasing population
and water-intensive green revolution. Farmers have found one solution that involves extracting
groundwater, and statistics suggest that the role of groundwater irrigation will continue to grow.

In 1960, groundwater was used only for approximately 4 million acre feet per year (maf/y); canals
were the major irrigation source at 50 maf/y. A steady increase in groundwater irrigation peaked
in 1991 at 22 maf/y. Since then, canal irrigation has increased to approximately 65 maf/y. Current
data is unavailable for groundwater harvesting, but some estimates place it at almost half the canal
system’s 65 maf/y.
Nonetheless, the limits of groundwater irrigation are becoming evident. In Baluchistan and
the Indus Basin, farmers are already pumping from depths of hundreds of meters and tens of
thousands of additional wells are being put into service every year. For all practical purposes,
a regulatory system does not exist. At such depths, farmers who are subsistence farming
cannot aford or do not fnd it economically viable to dig wells, and thus turn to cities in search
of livelihoods.
Te National Disaster Management Authority reports that
[the] fragility of [the] natural environment in upstream areas of [the] Indus
river basin has also exacerbated conditions of vulnerability. Due to massive
deforestation, the rate of soil erosion is quite high in the northern region.
Pakistan has been lef with only 4% forest and vegetative cover, in contrast to
the required 25%, thereby experiencing an intense and uninterrupted discharge
of water, especially during monsoon seasons. Tis coupled with increasing
snowmelt in the Himalayan glaciers has intensifed food and landslide risks.
Briscoe and Qamar, Pakistan’s Water Economy, 40–42.
“National Disaster Risk Management Framework,” 8.
T A B L E 2 Water shortages in Pakistan
Year Population (millions) Amount of water per capita
(cubic meters)
1951 34 5,650
2003 146 1,200
2010 168 1,000
2030 230–260 770–680
S O U R C E : Planning Commission of Pakistan, Perspective Plan 2005–30.
Looking at this alarming water availability situation and keeping in view the projections for
population expansion, it is clear that water security is a serious NTS threat that, if not adequately
addressed soon, could develop into an irreversible downward spiral of poverty, ecological
destruction, and socioeconomic destabilization.
Pakistan, as well as South Asia as a whole, has numerous NTS challenges with respect to
climate change, population growth and urbanization, and food and water security. South Asian
countries have not yet found efective mechanisms to start addressing these issues. If the region
remains unwilling or unable to adopt ecosystem-wide approaches that incorporate transboundary
strategies, progress will remain slow.
Initial research fndings on the impact of climate change in Pakistan indicate that adverse
impacts have begun to increase. Te country’s exponential population growth and rapid
urbanization have a strong ecological footprint, testing the limits of the ecosystem and the
services it can provide, given present rates of use and extraction. As the regenerative capacities
of these ecosystems diminish, poverty and the associated vulnerability to climate change–related
disasters are reinforced. Furthermore, as the frequency and ferocity of foods, storms, and
droughts increase, large segments of the population living in fragile ecosystems and food-prone
areas become more vulnerable. Consequently, the cost of such extreme events is increasing for
communities, infrastructure, and livelihoods.
Tat the growth in agricultural productivity has broadly kept pace with rising food demand
ofers some hope that these successes can be extended to meet Pakistan’s medium-term food
security challenges. A window of opportunity exists to increase production in some major crops.
Tese challenges will, however, become far more serious if immediate attention is not paid to
managing water resources, both underground and in the Indus River system. As Pakistan
becomes a water-scarce country in the coming decades, efective management will be the key to
keeping ecosystems alive.
Te challenges posed by climate change include permanent reductions in downstream fow,
erratic rainfall and monsoon patterns, large-scale and frequent fooding, glacier lake outburst
foods, and diminishing storage capacity. As vulnerabilities become acute, policymakers will need
to fnd regional and ecosystem-wide approaches and adaptation measures.
“Pakistan–European Community Country Strategy Paper for 2007–2013,” European External Action Service, European Union, 4, http://
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Te United States and Asia’s Rising Giants
Ashley J. Tellis, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace and NBR
Special Study
International Order and the Rise of Asia:
History and Teory
Kenneth B. Pyle, University of Washington
Country Studies
China Views India’s Rise: Deepening
Cooperation, Managing Diferences
M. Taylor Fravel, Massachusetts
Institute ofTechnology
India Comes to Terms with a Rising China
Harsh V. Pant, King’s College London
Japan, India, and the Strategic Triangle
with China
Michael J. Green, Center for Strategic
and International Studies
Coping with Giants: South Korea’s Response
to China’s and India’s Rise
Chung Min Lee, Yonsei University
Grand Stakes: Australia’s Future between
China and India
Rory Medcalf, Lowy Institute
Challenges and Opportunities:
Russia and the Rise of China and India
Dmitri Trenin, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace
Regional Studies
Great Games in Central Asia
S. Enders Wimbush, German
Marshall Fund
India Next Door, China Over the Horizon:
Te View from South Asia
Teresita C. Schafer, Brookings Institution
Te Rise of China and India: Challenging
or Reinforcing Southeast Asia’s Autonomy?
Carlyle A. Tayer, Australian Defence
Force Academy
Strategic Asia 2010–11: Asia’s Rising Power and America’s Continued Purpose
Strategic Asia 2009–10: Economic Meltdown and Geopolitical Stability
Strategic Asia 2008–09: Challenges and Choices
Strategic Asia 2007–08: Domestic Political Change and Grand Strategy
Strategic Asia 2006–07: Trade, Interdependence, and Security
Strategic Asia 2005–06: Military Modernization in an Era of Uncertainty
Strategic Asia 2004–05: Confronting Terrorism in the Pursuit of Power
Strategic Asia 2003–04: Fragility and Crisis
Strategic Asia 2002–03: Asian Afershocks
Strategic Asia 2001–02: Power and Purpose
Previous Volumes
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China and India
Strategic Asia 2011–12: Asia Responds to Its Rising Powers—China and India explores
how Asian states are responding to the rise of China and India and the strategies
these states are pursuing to preserve their national interests. In each chapter, a leading
expert investigates how a country or region perceives China’s and India’s growth based
on geopolitical, economic, cultural, military, and historical interactions and draws
implications for U.S. interests and leadership in the Asia-Pacifc.
About the Book
Edited by Ashley J. Tellis, Travis Tanner, and Jessica Keough
Te National Bureau of Asian Research - September 2011 - 396 pp
Paper - 6x9 - ISBN 978-0-9818904-2-3 - $34.93 (paperback) - $19.93 (PDF)
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