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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Pakistan-India Water War

Abid Latif Sindhu [Pakistan Observer]

It is rumored that the Indian government is taking seriously a statement made by the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, during his visit to the United States. The assertion is “water is taking the centre stage to an array of disputes between India and Pakistan”

Why to make so much fuss about this, in fact every Pakistani today feels that India is way bent to convert Pakistan into a desert by controlling its rivers and diverting the flow towards Mother India. The Indians are probably perturbed because they think that the issue has now come under the security spotlight.

The water crisis of Pakistan is directly affecting the food security of the agriculture based country. Like Egypt, Pakistan is also a single-river system-based country which is of course, the Indus. The Ganges-loving Indians are after Pakistan’s Indus – a war of geographical deities. Pakistan is a hydraulic society, whose complete economy is agrarian based; even its industry is nothing more than value addition to agricultural produce. Pakistan’s economy is based on informal sectors, therefore is outside the proper evaluation network. 80% of this is based upon agriculture. India has realized the real Achilles heel of this economy and is trying to steal Pakistan’s share of water. The Indians are even having a second thought over the Indus water treaty, rather they have almost redefined the terms and conditions as per their own national interests. 

The biggest dispute between Pakistan and India in coming months is going to be the Indus water treaty. It is the declared water aggression which the Indians have perpetrated. The Indus Basin Treaty is based upon four cardinal principles of agreement; one is the division of three eastern rivers to India and three western rivers of the Indus water system to Pakistan. Second was the financial support to assist Pakistan in making dams and canals to make with the loss of eastern rivers. Third was the harnessing of hydroelectric potential of Pakistani rivers by India with specified caveats of no storage, no diversion and no tunneling. Fourth was the dispute resolution mechanism revolving around Indian and Pakistani Indus water treaty commissioners? If that fails, then were the provisions for external arbitration through World Bank or international court of arbitration. 

India is defying all these four principles of agreement. First of all it is building a number of hydro electric power projects on Chenab and Jhelum rivers. It is diverting Pakistan’s water by making link canals and under ground tunnels. In case of Baglihar dam, it is funneling the water out on the plea that this is necessary to avoid sedimentation. Dams are made on head waters. In this case all the Pakistani head waters are being utilized to bolster and support Indian economy and agriculture. In case of Baglihar India won their case through international arbitration on the plea that dams have two storage levels: one, the live storage which is at, and, above the spill ways, other, is at lower level dead storage which is below the spillways level, therefore cause sedimentation, for this India has made tunnels to divert water to their rivers. Same is true for Kishenganga project on Neelum – Jhelum River. India is constructing number of water projects on these rivers, even new Jammu city is supplied with the stolen waters form Chanab. 

Secondly the Pakistan has failed to built water reservoirs on its rivers, which India is propagating as another plea to apply technical digression, thirdly India is invoking a provision to utilize the hydro electric potentials of Pakistan’s rivers before these waters can reach Pakistan. On the name of mere using India is actually transferring the water resource. 

Fourthly the level of arbitration is intentionally raised by India from that of Indus commissioners to that of international arbitrators. The World Bank as a guarantor of this treaty supports India due to India’s growing clout in international arena. Basha Dam is a case in point, when India objected about the site of Basha dam, being in northern area as disputed territory, World Bank which has promised to finance the project backed off. A whimper from India is worth plethora of arbitration requests from Pakistan, what parity. Pakistan is now in a precarious situation; water crisis is a phenomenon which is more detrimental to its security than extremism or Talibanization. There is a rapid internal population growth, the pie is shrinking and there are more mouths to feed. 

The other cause of concern is that Kabul River contributes 20% water to Indus system. The big brother, India is working on a number of projects in Afghanistan to harness this flow into Pakistan.

By radiationcell313 with 1 comment


one can not live without water, thats the bottom line for us pakistanis.

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