MIRAGRAM, Pakistan — With its neat stone walls and paths, bountiful tomato and wheat fields and miniature sheep that graze right up to doorsteps, this picturesque village has an air of timelessness. But the 110 families who live here only have to glance out their doors to see that their irrigated idyll may not last forever. For generations, the glacier clinging to Miragram Mountain, a peak that towers above the village, has served as a reservoir for locals and powered myriad streams throughout Pakistan’s scenic Chitral Valley. Now, though, the villagers say that their glacier — and their way of life — is in retreat. “We worry it may even vanish and there will be no drinking water,” said Abdul Nasir, 60, pointing up at the 19,000-foot mountaintop streaked with thin, patchy snow. “Every year, it’s melting.”
With 7,253 known glaciers, including 543 in the Chitral Valley, there is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth outside the polar regions, according to various studies. Those glaciers feed rivers that account for about 75 percent of the stored-water supply in the country of at least 180 million.