Sell vote buy water

Images of children, seemingly as young as toddler age, lining up with empty jerry cans to fill water in sweltering temperatures from a tanker is an egregious display of the basic human rights violation by past governments that has existed for decades in Pakistan. Debate over the issue throughout the years following repeated promises by past governments to eliminate the shortage has kept the topic alive. At least 74 per cent of the population in the country lacks access to potable water, according to the WHO and Unicef. With elections less than ten days away, major political parties have once again reiterated tall claims via their party platforms on how they plan to combat the water crisis facing the residents of Karachi all the way to Mansehra. Commendably, however, voters appear slightly wiser this time, urging that they will believe in a party’s solutions when they see them in practice.

Manifestos are pertinent to a party’s success in elections but the people have reached a threshold for false promises. For Mansehra residents to have to travel 12 kilometres to collect water may have been acceptable a few hundred years ago but not in a technological era when self-driving cars, 3-D printers, and smart sensors in toilets exist. Indeed, it is only a matter to be ridiculed, that no government up until now has been able to make provisions for potable, and even non-potable water. The issue has persisted throughout the provinces, despite hyperbole on desalination plants and reverse osmosis systems.

In these desperate times, too many untimely and avoidable deaths have occurred due to a lack of access to clean water. Health infrastructures and poor hygiene do not support a water shortage and tanker mafias are ever ready to add insult to injury. It is not in the interest of a democracy to have citizens forgo their votes, as some are planning to do in these elections if their water needs remain unmet, but we support the citizens in taking a stronger stance.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2018.

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