LUMS organizes an International symposium on ‘History and Future of Indus Basin’

Lahore, January 2017: The LUMS Centre for Water Informatics and Technology (WIT), in collaboration with the Khwarizmi Science Society (KSS) organized an international symposium on ‘History and Future of Indus Basin’ discussing the central role of water in shaping the politics, economics and culture of the Indus Basin. The daylong event held talks ranging from an analysis of early water systems in the Mughal period, through the impact of colonial transformations of the Indus Basins irrigation work, to post independence chain of events shaping contemporary water resource governance in the Indus Basin. Participants were able to realize the connection between historical interventions in the Basin and contemporary water issues in transboundary and interprovincial water governance .

Leading international and national scholars delivered seminars on important historic, geographical, scientific and political issues around Indus river basin in Pakistan including: Dr. David Gilmartin (North Carolina State University), Dr. James Wescoat (Massachusettes Institute of Technology), Dr. Daanish Mustafa (Kings College London), Dr. Adeel Malik (University of Oxford), Dr. Imran Ali (Karachi School of Business and Leadership) and Mr. Khalid Mohtadullah (Global Water Partnership). The multi-disciplinary symposium hosted over 150 participants including students and academia as well as water management professionals from provincial irrigation and agricultural department, research organizations and NGOs.

The symposium also hosted a book launch for Dr. David Gilmartin’s book ‘Blood and Water: The Indus River Basin in Modern History’, which is considered as the most authoritative text on irrigation development in the Indus Basin from the nineteenth century to the present. This book explores how environmental transformation of the Indus Basin is tied to the creation of communities and nations, focusing on the intersection of politics, statecraft, and the environment.

According to Dr. Abubakr Muhammad, Director of WIT, “The human transformation of the Indus Basin has allowed engineers to control the nature and harness its productive resources for development purposes, yet at the same time it does not allow us to ‘escape’ the environment of which we are a part. Human-driven environmental change in the Indus Basin has had a demonstrated impact on political structures, where largely controlling water flows has been a key to statecraft and consolidation of power during colonial and post colonial periods.”

The symposium arranged a combination of informative talks, panel discussions and interactive Question/Answer sessions between speakers and attendees. A diverse range of economic, historic, geographic, technical and cultural issues relating to the Indus River Basin were discussed including: question of sovereignty in transboundary river basin management, inter-provincial water issues, political economy implications of canal colonization, irrigation impact of Green Revolution in India and cultural representation of a river as a garden.

The Center for Water Informatics and Technology’s research and outreach activities have been critical for building capacity in the water sector, helping to bridge the gap between academia and practice, and establish a fruitful co-operation between the academic community and industry, development agencies, NGOs, public administration, local communities, and other relevant institutions.

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