Defence and Diplomacy

By Raja G Mujtaba

(This paper is based on S M Hali’s weekly TV program Defence and Diplomacy where on the panel he had two eminent personalities who are considered to be authority in their fields of expertise. The video clipping is at the end of the article.)

“The challenge of securing safe and plentiful water for all is one of the most daunting challenges faced by the world today.” Ban Ki-moon

“Oil has always been thought of as the traditional cause of conflict in the Middle East past and present. Since the first Gulf oil well gushed in Bahrain in 1932, countries have squabbled over borders in the hope that ownership of a patch of desert or a sand bank might give them access to new riches. No longer. Now, most borders have been set, oil fields mapped and reserves accurately estimated – unlike the water resources, which are still often unknown. WATER is taking over from oil as the likeliest cause of conflict in the Middle East.” Adel Darwish

"Water too often is treated as a commodity, as an instrument with which one population group can suppress another." Ignacio Saiz 

Pakistan has the most economic potential but is being ruined by the most corrupt, inefficient and myopic political clout. The clout is not working on one front for Pakistan’s destruction but in every direction at every level.

Present government’s mishandling of the water case is no exception. Jamal Shah, Chairman Water Authority was deputed to plead the case in World Bank/International Court who absconded and Pakistan lost the case. Who is this Jamal Shah and what links he has with the top men in Islamabad needs to be investigated, the truth will come out.

Signing of MFN treaty with India is another step in the same direction whereby the interests of Pakistan are being sold out, then what one should expect from the people where money is made on every move and every process. The recent Senate elections have exposed all. Those who have bought their seats into Senate are up for sale for the price they want.

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With this background expecting something positive for this country would be a miracle. As Shamsul Mulk, the former Chairman WAPDA has said that we are our own worst enemies.

In the same context, General Mirza Aslam Beg wrote a letter to Opinion Maker, on Indian Supreme Court’s orders to interlink the rivers, where he exposes Indian designs, which is nothing short of hegemony and subjugation. Why India is doing so is very clear from the fact that the powers that matter today are behind India. With this Indian Supreme Court Order, Bangladesh would be the worst affected where rivers would go dry and the sea water would come inland turning the land into saline marshy land.

It’s not just the water issue, that would affect Pakistan and Bangladesh both that the world is turning away its eye from but hundreds and thousands of ruthless killings in over a dozen states of India is going on that also does not catch the eye from any quarter.

Over a million troops are packed in Indian Occupied Kashmir where countless innocents have been killed, maimed or arrested. Women raped, children killed and pregnant women shot in the wombs. With that mindset and background, if India is denying water to her neighbours then who cares.

With Pakistan, India signed Indus Water Treaty in 1962, according to that treaty, 3 westerly rivers, namely Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were given to Pakistan and three easterly rivers namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beas were given to India. After having blocked her rivers, now India is putting up dams on the three westerly rivers on which Pakistan has the exclusive rights.

Now what the Indian Supreme Court has done, is very clear from General Aslam Beg’s letter that is reproduced below.

“Indian Supreme Court Orders Establishing Indian Water Hegemony

India’s Supreme Court on 27 February 2012, ordered the government to implement the 2002 project to link major rivers in India ‘in a time-bound manner’. The over $100 billion project will link around 30 rivers, to ensure flood control and equitable distribution of water by efficient transfer of water from surplus to deficit areas.  The project is split into the Himalayan component (with 14 linkages) and the Peninsular component (with 16 linkages). The Himalayan component includes linking the Brahmaputra, Ganges and other rivers. The Peninsular component is to develop a southern Water Grid. This includes linking of Krishna, Cauvery, Mahanadi and Godavari rivers. Thus, the project aims to link 30 major rivers and construction of large dams within India, Nepal and Bhutan, requiring international agreements with these countries.

Pakistan sharply reacted to this dangerous Indian move of inter linking of disputed rivers in the Occupied Kashmir and said that the $100 billion project to link around 30 rivers would strangulate Pakistan, but no  response  from India, who continues building 300 small and major dams, linking the rivers to contain Pakistan’s water share.  Additionally, “India has allocated $212 billion for turning the water courses of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus from North to South and deprive Pakistan of its share of water and establish Indian water hegemony – an all-encompassing strategy to destabilize Pakistan. These dams are affecting seven million acres of fertile land.

According to articles 3, 4 and 7 of Indus Water Treaty, India could not construct any water reservoirs, over western rivers of Chenab, Jhelum and Sindh nor it could divert the catchment areas of tributary canals of these rivers. New Delhi is also bound to notify Pakistan in advance about the water schemes but so far it has failed to do so. Pakistan only becomes aware of the project, when they are complete by 70 percent. These include 24 projects on River Chenab, 52 on River Jhelum and 18 on River Indus. Pakistan’s agriculture is under serious threat.

Rivers, lakes and aquifers, are national security assets to be protected. What plans does Pakistan have to challenge Indian water hegemony?

General Mirza Aslam Beg

Former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan”

We may blame India for what its doing, but before that we need to take a stock of our own doings. Have we been able to manage the water from the three westerly rivers that have been allocated to Pakistan under the treaty?

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Everyone is out to criticize Ayub Khan, the former President of Pakistan for having sold out Pakistan and Kashmir under Indus Basin Treaty, who under the said treaty laid out a series of link canals, and dams to store water for effective management to irrigate lands and produce hydel power. Since he left, not single water storage of some capacity has been added to the network.

Kalabagh Dam that was approved in the 1950s has been killed by the politicians and those who opposed it need to be studied for their links with outside forces. They were not opposing based on some technical grounds, but the opposition has been purely.

Presently, Pakistan has two major dams, namely Tarbela and Mangla; both due to sedimentation have lost their capacity to hold water by about 35%. Not that these need de-silting for water storage alone but power generation has gone down too. No effort is being made at any level to meet the present and future needs of the country we need more dams at every possible location. Dams not only store water but also feed the subsurface water arteries that can help agriculture and other human needs elsewhere through tube-wells etc.

Pakistan has the potential to generate over 60,000 MWs of power from rivers alone and if this is supplemented through windmills, solar and Thar Coal then Pakistan would be the richest country in energy resources. But, we need a vision, political will and commitment to do that; no messiah in sight.