“Footprints of GWP South Asia: on Mr Sadar Tariq’s eyes”

Sardar Muhammad Tariq, born on 15 May 1939, has over 53 years experience in planning, design, tendering and construction management of water resources and hydropower development projects Asia. He was a former Chairman of the South Asia Technical Advisory Committee (SASTAC) and the Regional Chair of Global Water Partnership South Asia (GWP SAS) from 2010 to 2012. Time to time he held the position of Regional Council Member of GWP SAS representing Pakistan and currently holds the position of Executive Director/CEO of GWP Pakistan (Pakistan Water Partnership).

The interview with Mr Tariq was held 29 April 2021 online and he attended the discussion from his hometown namely Kot Nagibullah Village in Haripur District, in Pakistan. As per his preference, the discussion was started from the commencement of the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in the mid-nineties. This is what Mr Tariq recalled about the inception of GWP.  

Boutros Boutros-Ghali the 6th Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) formulated a think-tank in 1994-1995 and assigned them a specific task; that was to identify the potential risks that could arise in 21st Century so that the UN can be advised for preparedness. Out of energy and food security risks that were identified by the task force, two risks stood out and they were in the opinion that there are no specific scientific solutions to avoid those. Those two potential risks were hazards affiliated with water and air that could be further aggravated by the anticipated climate change. Therefore, the importance of formulating a partnership among nations was immersed with the expectation of raising awareness on water management, especially among the developing nations. To harness this partnership, the Secretary-General of the UN was of opine to formulate a network and the notion of Global Water Partnership (GWP) was immerged in 1995. Later, the nations who are interested on the partnership realised that without acquiring the inter-governmental status, GWP is unable to raise funds. Pakistan had been one of the countries to send an appeal to the UN requesting intergovernmental status for GWP. In the meantime, the GWP was inaugurated, and an Interim Steering Committee was formulated as a coordinating body in 1996, that has given the policy direction to GWP. Since then, GWP invited the regions to join as partners.

GWP then realised that the regions themselves are vast and diverse, and invited the countries to formulate Country Water Partnerships (CWPs) at country level since 1998. Eventually, in 2002, the fully-fledged GWP Organisation (GWPO) was inaugurated in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Partnership, 2006).

“The first Executive Secretary (EC) of GWP was Mr Kalid Mothadullah from Pakistan. He took the initiative to motivate the countries to establish CWPs”. In 1999, the EC reached out to Mr Tariq, who held a Senior Government Position at that time, asking to establish a GWP Country Water Partnership in Pakistan. As a result, the Pakistan Water Partnership was established in the same year. The office was housed in the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) with special permission given by the President of Pakistan, Muhammad Rafiq Tarar. Simultaneously, the South Asia Technical Advisory Committee (SASTAC) was formed in 1998, with members from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The first Chair of SASTAC was Dr M. A. Chitale (1998-2002) (Partnership, 2006) from New Delhi, India. “After several gatherings, we have realised that a CWP in one centralised location was not technically sound especially in countries with large populations and land area. We would not be able to deliver our mandate of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) effectively to the highest levels of the government and locals concurrently. To solve the puzzle, SASTAC introduced the Area Water Partnerships (AWPs) for South Asia in one of the meetings held in June 2000 (Partnership, 2002) (Partnership, 2006) ”, said Mr Tariq.

Read More: Local Action through Area Water Partnerships (Frank van Steenbergen, 2006)

One of the success stories of AWPs is Nara Canal AWP, in Pakistan, which is operating in the basin of Nara Canal in the lower Indus Basin of Sindh Province Pakistan and was the 1st to establish globally (Asia, 2011). The AWP brought all the stakeholders under one umbrella to ensure equitable distribution of water to locals in upper riparian and lower riparian areas. GWP was highly impressed with the initiative and supported its continuation. Hence, Mr Tariq was requested by GWP to share the success of the initiative with other regions in one of the global meetings held in Trinidad in 2001.

Mr Tariq explained the process of establishing an AWP. “First step is to spot people who are involved and capable of influencing the water issues in a given area. List out or prioritise the water issues in that area, support the identified stakeholders through awareness raising and provide access to seed money to establish an AWP. AWP is being advised to elect the governing council democratically from the stakeholders and to stabilise the partnership with their contributions in terms of money and time”. He continued “there are adequate examples where stakeholders approached the CWPs with issues specific to certain areas and showing their willingness to establish an AWP as a means to find solutions to water problems”.

Unforgettable moment

Pakistan Water Partnership organised a GWP Steering Committee and a Technical Committee meeting in 2003, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Nearly 75 water experts from all over the world attended the two conferences where former President General Pervez Musharraf attended the inauguration of the meetings as the Guest of Honour. To recognise the support given by Pakistan Water Partnership for creating Pakistan’s Water Mission and for introducing and promoting IWRM, the President of Pakistan announced a donation of ten million Pakistani Rupees for the CWP, which was a pleasant shock for all the participants and GWP Pakistan.

Further to this, Ms Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of GWP launched the South Asia Regional Water Partnership (GWP SAS) in 2003 at the same meeting.

In 2008, GWP SAS realised the importance to install a permanent regional office to preserve its history and to cut down the cost of operations of moving the office from country to country with the changing chairman position. After the matter was discussed with GWPO, all have agreed to establish the regional office in Sri Lanka hosted by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Colombo. Sri Lanka was selected mainly because of the absence of travel restrictions to all South Asian nations which allows easy access to the regional office.

Format of the Regional Council

A sub-committee of SASTAC members including Mr Tariq, Mr Nanda Abeywickrama and Dr Mosali Sadasiva Reddy drafted the Regional Office Working Guidelines. The guidelines were kept flexible enabling the Regional Council (RC) to amend it appropriately subjected to the Annual General Meeting decisions. The RWP is still using the Working Guidelines that were prepared during the inception with minor changes. In 2003, the SASTAC was converted into an RWP with a Regional Council (RC). Under new guidelines, each country was allowed to identify two members rather than selecting elected members to the RC, considering gender, age and professionalism. The Chair of the RC is being selected based on a draw, where Bangladesh came first followed by Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan. It had decided to rotate the position in the same manner in three years terms. 

Unsuccessful attempts

In 2011, when Mr Tariq was Chairing GWP South Asia, he decided to widen the partnership and collaborate with the other South Asian countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan and Maldives. The mission to Bhutan was successful and the Government of Bhutan extended their support to form the Bhutan Water Partnership. The second attempt was to bring Afghanistan on board and GWP SAS had undertaken a high-level delegation by including the former Executive Secretary Mr Kalid Mothadullah to discuss with the Government of Afghanistan. Despite the detailed meetings held with the Government of Afghanistan, the mission was unsuccessful. The attempt with the Maldives was the same, the highly centralised power in the country worked as an undesirable factor and the Government denied the collaboration.

The next effort was to get the sovereign guarantee to the RWP to facilitate with self-financing and to get control over financing which was denied by GWP. “So, these were the two efforts that failed when I was Charring the RWP,” said Mr Tariq.

Guidance to success

“GWP SAS must consider developing a regional programme which is common to all the six countries in the region” he emphasised. “The recently concluded climate programme; Water and Climate Resilient Programme (WACREP) concept was developed by SASTAC and was accepted by all the countries. GWP also was highly impressed with the proposal and with the close collaboration of the Network Officer to the region, the proposal had gotten high visibility resulting in adding another region to the programme, which was Southern Africa. Likewise, the programme had grown to a global programme WACDEP”.

“GWP had played a very conducive role in the past in designing regional programmes. GWP and the TEC members worked for hand in hand with the RWPs and appointed the consultants to better formulate regional programmes that address the needs at the regional and country level and fulfil the requirements of donors. These proposals were executed successfully on the ground. The region and CWPs required this support from GWP, especially to restructure the concepts aligned with donor requirements and produce proposals acceptable to donors”.

Mr Tariq highlighted these two factors as key actions that GWP SAS needs to be considered immediately to strengthen the regional network and to facilitate rendering its mandate to the people of South Asia.   



Asia, G. W. P. S., 2011. Nara Area Water Partnership. Newsline, pp. https://www.gwp.org/globalassets/global/gwp-sas_files/newslines/nara.pdf.

Frank van Steenbergen, L. D., 2006. Local Action Through Area Water Partnerships , https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/24705964/local-action-through-area-water-partnerships-global-water-: Global Water Partnership .

Partnership, G. W., 2002. Annual Report 2002, https://www.gwp.org/globalassets/global/about-gwp/annual-reports/gwp-in-action-2002.pdf: Global Water Partnership .

Partnership, G. W., 2006. The boldness of small steps - Ten years of the Global Water Partnership. https://www.gwp.org/globalassets/global/the-challenge/resource-material/10th_anniv-en.pdf ed. Stockholm: Global Water Partnership.


Side bar:

Sadar Tariq - Practicing Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) - YouTube

Profile of Mr Sadar Tariq

Letter – president’s grant to GWP