Pakistan Studies

Importance of Rivers for Pakistan

Rivers and Pakistan

A river is a body of water that flows from high altitude areas, passes through plains, and finally falls into the sea as a result of gravitational force. Rivers are important as they play an important role in creating a balance in the environment to the fulfillment of different human needs. This article briefly describes the importance of rivers especially with reference to Pakistan.

Source of water for irrigation

Pakistan is an agricultural country with crop cultivation as the dominant farming practice. The Indus River and its tributaries irrigate the Indus plain in Punjab and Sindh. Farmers cultivate crops throughout the year which helps meet the food needs of the increasing population of the country. Similarly, It acts as the largest source of raw material for different industries which helps earn much-needed foreign exchange.

Moreover, agriculture provides more than 43% of total employment in the country. Canals constructed from barrages and dams have helped Pakistan to bring huge tracks or arid and semi-arid areas under cultivation making it one of the best irrigation systems in the world.

Pakistan receives scanty rainfall which is not useful for crop cultivation. Likewise, the contribution of underground water through lift irrigation is also very little. Thus rivers are the only source of irrigation on which the whole economy of Pakistan stands.

Hydroelectric power generation

Rivers also play an important role in the generation of hydroelectric power in Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan is generating more than 7000 MW power from a potential of 60, 000 MW hydel power. Tarbela, Mangla, Warsak dams along with hundreds of small and medium-size hydroelectric power stations built on rivers and streams across mountainous areas generate electricity.

Work is also underway on building new dams, e,g. Diamir-Basha Dam, Dassu Dam, Satpara Dam, etc. These dams will be helpful to overcome the deepening energy crisis in the country.

Source of water for domestic and industrial

Water is also one of the important inputs of industry. It is used as a cooling agent in different reactions to industrial processes. Similarly, river water is used for domestic purposes i.e. cooking, washing up cloths, etc. in Pakistan,  in both rural and urban areas. The government is providing water from rivers to residents of cities through a proper water supply system.


Fishing is one of the important sources of livelihood in Pakistan. A variety of inland fish can be found in rivers in Pakistan. Popular places for fishing in Pakistan include Kaghan, Naran, Sawat, Dir, Chitral, and Gilgit-Baltistan. The famous inland or freshwater fish of Pakistan include  Manaseer, Palla, Thalla, Rahu, Trout, Grass, Silver.

Increase in soil fertility

Rivers take alluvium along with them. The alluvium is an organic matter made up of fine particles of silt, clay, sand, and gravel. The river water deposits this alluvium in areas it drains thus increasing the fertility of the land. The Indus plain in Punjab and Sindh is fertile as rivers have deposited alluvium over the course of thousands of years.

Increase in natural beauty

Rivers add to the scenic beauty of an area making them popular picnic resorts. Nature has blessed Pakistan with a number of rivers making the northern and north-western mountainous areas key tourist destinations. Tourism helps boosts the economy of local communities and the country at large. Some of the important tourist attractions in Pakistan include Gilgit-Baltistan, Naran Kaghan, Sawat, Chitral, etc.

To sum up, rivers play an important role as a source of clean drinking water to the overall development of the economy.

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