Indus River; National River of Pakistan

The National River of Pakistan is the Indus River, known as a transboundary river. It is a trans-Himalayan river of South Asia and East Asia. Ravi river is the longest and largest river in Pakistan. The Indus River starts its journey from western Tibet, China, then bends towards Jammu and Kashmir, India. From there, it comes to the Arabian sea of Karachi, Pakistan. The total length of the river is 2,000 miles, about 3200 kilometers.

national river of pakistan

Ranging Area of Indus River

The drainage area is approximately 45,000 miles and is about 1165000 kilometers. About 175000 sq mi around 453000 square kilometers remains in the Himalayas region, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram range. The remaining water of the river bends towards Pakistan.

The annual flow of the river is more than the Nile River, Tigris River, and Euphrates river. The Indus River covers the ecosystem of temperate forests and plains of that region.

Origin of  National River of Pakistan-Indus River

The region of Punjab that lies in South Asia is in the place of the northern Indus valley. However, a large delta of the Indus river is in the southern part of Sindh in Pakistan. The Indus river has significant importance in the regional cultures. Indus valley civilization was called an age of the Bronze. Indus valley civilization flourished in the 3rd millennium BC.

In the Rigveda hymns, Punjab was mentioned, and the Saptha word was mentioned in the Avesta religion, which means seven rivers. The Indus River was explored in the Classical period under the supervision of Persian king Darius in 515 BC.

The Indus river has its boundary between India and Afghanistan, and Iran. Alexander the Great and Greek forces crossed this river in historic times. Muhammad Bin Qasim, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Babur, and other Muslim armies crossed the Indus river to enter Punjab and Gujrat. 

Importance in Pakistani Agricultural Production

Pakistan’s economy depends on the water resources of the Indus valley. The maximum agricultural production of Punjab and Sindh province depends on the Indus river. The meaning of the word Punjab is“land of five rivers”.Pakistan has five rivers like Jhelum Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. These five rivers gather into the Indus river. Many industries take water from the Indus river. Once, it had the name stand River(sat means seven and Nadi means river).

national river of pakistan

Effect of weather on the river

The weather directly affects the river as the river diminishes in winter. While in monsoon, from July to September, its banks become flooded due to heavy rain. The evidence of the shifting direction of the river is observed in the earthquake of 1816.

Delta of Indus River

The geography of the Indus River starts from the Arabian sea of Karachi, Pakistan. The Indus river delta ranges approximately 16,000 sq mi about  (41,440 km²); it is about 130 miles across the Arabian Sea. The delta of the Indus River contains clay, and the soil is infertile and swampy. The annual rainfall of the delta of the Indus river ranges from 10-20 inches. 

 At the mouth of the Indus river, Hyderabad city is 130 miles on the north side. In the west of delta, Karachi city lies. In July, for the delta region, temperature ranges from 70-85°F, and In January, temperature ranges from 50-70°F. Therefore, the river region has importance for migrating birds.

national river of pakistan

The delta of the Indus river has a flow of 180 billion cubic meters, approximately 240 billion cubic yards annually. Irrigation systems, Dams, and barrages  have been constructed since the 1940s


Dolphins are found in the Indus River. These dolphins are the subspecies of the dolphins of the South Asian river. These are considered as endangered species by the world wildlife fund as only 1,000 dolphins are existing. In the Indus River, 2 Otter species are also found. Eurasian Otter is located in northeastern highlands, and smooth-coated otters are found everywhere in the river.


More than 180 species of freshwater fish are found in the Indus river. Twenty-two species of fish are only found in this river. In earlier cultures, fish had a significant role, as in Indus valley civilization, the sign of fish was commonly used to show the meaning of stars or gods. 

Effect of Indus River on the Economy of Pakistan

The river is considered as a primary source of water supply for the agricultural use of Punjab and Sindh. It is regarded as the backbone of Pakistani farm production.

Irrigation System

During the period of Indus civilization, local people built canals. But during the period of the Kushan Empire and Mughal Empire, engineers built the canals. In 1850 British East India Company constructed the modern canal system. This Irrigation system is the “largest contiguous irrigation system developed over the past 140 years.”

Diversion of river water on a larger scale causes issues. For example, the irrigation system causes increased soil salinization and reduces crop yield.

Water Distribution Agreement

In 1960 India and Pakistan signed a water control treaty. In the agreement, Pakistan was guaranteed to receive water from the Indus river.

national river of pakistan

Dams of Indus Basin

There are two main dams constructed on the Indus basin project. One is the Mangla dam built on the Jhelum river, and the other is the tarbela dam built on the Indus river. The dams are the primary source of electricity for industries and urban regions. In addition, the irrigation system and dams are the sources of water providers to the crops like wheat, cotton and sugarcane.

Vegetation and wildlife

The reduced inflow of fresh water in the Indus river threatened vegetation and wildlife, deforestation, pollution, and global warming. Dams are the leading cause of isolating the Indus river dolphins from other upstreams.


Factories attached to the river cause water pollution and atmospheric pollution. Pollutants found in the river water are the main reason for endangered dolphins. Sindh Environment protection agency has banned polluting factories under the Pakistan environment protection act 1997. The government of Pakistan has banned fishing from Guddu Barrage to Sukkur. The Indus river is responsible for bringing Plastic into the sea along with it.

Effects of Climate Change on the River

 Qin Dahe, who was the former head of the China Meteorological Administration,

mentioned the threats of fastly melting ice of glaciers and global warming,

“Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world. In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows. But, in the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines of the Indus River. Once they vanish, water supplies in Pakistan will be in peril .”

Richard Holbrook, a U.S.diplomat, stated that falling water levels of the Indus river could precipitate World War III.

Leave a Comment