The archbishop of Lahore has asked priests in his archdiocese to deposit their parish collections for two Sundays in a fund to build two dams aimed at conserving water and tackling Pakistan's chronic power crisis. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar last month initiated crowdfunding for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. The country is on the verge of a water crisis and needs dams urgently, he said. According to the Indus River System Authority, Pakistan has storage capacity of 13.7 million acre-feet (MAF) for the 138 MAF of water flowing into the country. It needs to increase storage capacity to 25 MAF. In a pastoral letter, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw
advised parish priests to deposit their collections by Aug. 15. "As the chief justice of Pakistan has suggested that every person should contribute a minimum of 10 rupees (US$0.08), therefore you are advised to have a second collection for two Sundays and every faithful should contribute 10 rupees each towards this cause," he said. "As a Christian community, we have always played a vital role in building Pakistan. Knowing the crises of water and electricity, let us contribute our share towards the national cause." Media reports say the electricity shortfall has soared to a record high of 6,250 megawatts with power cuts of two to 16 hours in the humid monsoon season. Muslim leaders praised the archbishop's initiative on Aug. 13 at the Dominican Peace Center in Lahore during interfaith celebrations of Pakistan Independence Day (Aug. 14). "This is his noblest effort. Pakistan belongs to everybody. Water and power crises should be addressed at every level," Allama Asghar Arif Chishti, chairman of the Sunni Ulema Forum, told ucanews.com. "We shall share the story of the Catholic Church's contribution at pulpits, in madrassas (Islamic seminaries) and interreligious gatherings."