Pakistan IndiaPrelude to Indus Water Treaty 1960-Part 3 

By Naveed Tajammal

As one now see’s in the hindsight, no one really fought for getting Pakistan, its shares from the Division, of the British Indian Empire of India. Mr. Liaqat Ali for all his rhetoric failed even to fight for the wrong Radcliffe Award, his counterpart Nehru, the Prime Minister of India left no stone unturned to his objectives already mature in his mind, much before the 3rd June 1947, The Menon Plan. Ayub Khan, was fully in picture, being a member of the Punjab Boundary commission, from pre-August 1947 as was Asghar Khan, then member of Armed Forces Reconstitution Committee, which was to work out the division of Armed Forces Assets; he too badly failed. As one sees in the eventual outcome, to the job assigned to him, which was very vital for our struggle, in those days, Pakistan’s share of Army assets alone was 170,000 tons of stores, beside that of Air force and Navy all three subjects, later came under Air Marshall Asghar Khan. 300 special trains were assigned to do the job, only three trains eventually came from India, loaded with 6000 Tons of over-sized army boots,5000 unserviceable-vintage Rifles, a consignment of Army Hospital Nurses Smocks, rest were wooden crates filled with bricks and prophylactics [condoms].

The point being, one fails to see any nationalistic germs amongst this lot, assigned on their jobs, by the new state, in all facets, water issues aside, one is reminded of remarks given in the a American paper on the subject, dated 1st November 1960, in the aftermath of Indus Water Treaty, 1960, referring to sorry conditions found between 1947-1960, in connection to the water issues.”….But Negotiations were delayed, Pakistan, beset by changing Governments and political Opportunists, was unable to commit itself, India, growing Impatient, delivered an ultimatum, that it would divert what water it needed by 1962, settlement or No Settlement..” India had reasons to go for such a stance unlike the Pakistani Leadership they were focused on the subject, who had done their homework; pre-planned & already foresaw their future needs, and as will be explained in this part, one can only admire their dedication to the subject.

[box] When people like Liaqat Ali Khan, Ayub Khan, Asghar Khan and some others appeared to be disinterested then who else could be trusted is a question that keeps haunting the nation.[/box]

On 1st April 1948, while our leadership was busy allotting properties to themselves and in their cloak & dagger internal games, the Indians shut off our water supply, from the Ferozepur Head works to the Dipalpur canal network, and Lahore that was using this canal water for drinking and municipal needs was left high and dry. The Indian stance was that Pakistan had failed to renew the Standstill agreement ending 31 March 1948. The re sult was while our irrigation department, & statecraft slept, 5.5 % of the total sown area in West Pakistan, found itself without water, at the beginning of the critical Khariff-sowing season. Electrical supply to Lahore and surrounding areas dependent upon Mandi scheme now in India was likewise cut off.

While it is true that Indian leadership has always had its fifth columnists within Pakistan who never wanted Pakistan to take a start. Even now, they challenge the logic of the ‘Divide of 1947.’ The congress party had gone along with partition plan, as this was the only way they could secure their partition as per their own terms or needs of the time; since then they have felt entitled to use every mean at their disposal to wreck our economy, to prove that Pakistan cannot survive without India. Thus bring her back in the fold of the ‘Oneness of India’ as had been envisaged by Nehru. Denial of vital irrigation water would be the best way to expedite this process.

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Why the Pakistani Government failed to invoke the international laws regarding water regulations very much so in practice, like those of The Council of the Institute of International Law 1911[Madrid], wherein it was clear that a State is forbidden to stop or divert the flow of river which runs from its own territory to a neighbouring state or prevents it from making proper use of the flow of river on its part. Barcelona Convention 1921,”No state is allowed to alter the natural conditions of its own territory to the disadvantage of the natural conditions of the territory of a neighbouring country”. India was very much a signatory of this International Treaty, and it is a pity, if only our leadership of those days also had dedicated to statecraft, who spent time pouring over the looming matters, instead of wasting away time in the Night life of Karachi.

Indian future water plans were evident by the way Indian Prime Minister Nehru was prancing around, and passing snide remarks, ”That what India did with Indian rivers was India’s Affair.” [P-199, Leonard Mosley, ”The last days of the British Raj”]. But the point is, were they India’s rivers? To do what she pleased with, is a different issue.

India should have been challenged for appropriation of waters-by taking away waters from the regions and from the people who since the mists of times had used these rivers to irrigate, via proper canals as well as the inundation canals  and the wells, that, had been re-charged by the same rivers, All of these main three rivers[Ravi/Beas/Sutlej] later termed eastern rivers, by Nehru party had been the tributaries of the Sindh River [Indus],Therefore the new Indian entity had No right to divert our rivers to irrigate newer projects to the East or South East.

The Ruse used by India was to put forth her, new’ historical claim of oneness of India, and that partition had created a new situation, as India had succeeded to the rights of British Indian Empire, as a new Sovereign state, since prior to 14 August 1947, there had been no such geographic entity as Pakistan, hence there could be no responsibilities of a successor state [India] Towards Pakistan. The Gullible Clueless Leadership of those Times, failed to take on Indian Government, on this issue, had they contested this argument, as an, Unlimited Historical references, of the entity of Sindh Valley Civilization, a unique entity, which is the mother of all civilizations to its East, had existed, and, that, India by itself had never existed by this Name either, it was divided in petty states of numerous races and tribes, divergent to each other. The Indian census of 1991 clearly states that India has 1576 different Mother Languages. It were the British who had coined the term British Indian Empire, that also very late in history.. What to lament about our Leadership, the Alien Masters who ran our statecraft, the ICS bureaucrats were equally clueless. It is a pity that, the first Nationalist type of people, led by General Akbar Khan, i.e. Attempted Coup of Feb/Mar 1951 failed, had it succeeded, he could have taken on the Indians, as he was the one who led the earlier Kashmir Independence War of 1947/48.

As history, based on true facts surfaces with passage of time, G. Mueenuddin, ICS had been made the leader of water dispute delegation, later with the World Bank, He too, failed to pursue the matter, and relied too much on the word of World Bank officials. However the other party, India, led by its own Class of Nationalist Bureaucrats continued on their already chalked out programme and kept gaining its foothold. Pakistan should have filed her case with the international court of justice at the Hague, as per international law, no court could have denied Pakistan its Riparian Rights of the Waters.

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India played its tricks of releasing in the meanwhile 20,000 Cusecs of water in the flood seasons, the sore issue was the need of urgent 6000 cusecs [A cusec is one cubic foot of water per second] in the dead of winter.

Pakistan as one sees, has been pursuing policies which have been detrimental to her own interest, instead of demanding her right from the start, her leadership fell under the spell of Nehru, who using his silver glib tongue, convinced them to seek alternative sources of water supply, thereby freeing India of the responsibility, as the upper riparian, and our Foolish lot fell for it. The case can be re-opened on account of this diabolical Indian treachery.

Even much before Indus water treaty had been Inked, India had diverted Beas river waters into Sutlej, Ravi waters in Beas, and Chenab was to be diverted by Marhu Tunnel-into Ravi. The Wular lake scheme in Kashmir, had been put forth, as well the ‘Dhaingarh Dam proposal, which would enable India to with hold waters from Marala Head works. In other words, India now bragged of holding all the cards, but that was because our lazy lot handed over the whole pack of cards. Had a Timely reference been filed in the international court of justice at the Hague, and the matter given full publicity worldwide, Indian forward planning could have been handled, But, the lack of dedicated leadership Nationalist in true sense was found absent as was seen with the way even the matter of division of Armed Forces store issue-as well Air Force and Navy, was never Hotly contested in any International court or even within the commonwealth, so one became later a Field Marshal and the other Air Marshal.

Due to negligence on the part of ruling statecraft of the Time, Pakistan’s position in the early sowing season of April/May 1948 was very weak, So a belated effort was made and a three member team led by Mr. Ghulam Mohammad, and with other two members, Mian Mumtaz Daultana and Sardar Shaukat Hayat went over to Delhi, Indians led by Nehru struck a hard bargain, they wanted recognition of their rights to all the waters of Ravi/Beas/Sutlej, and that, Pakistan should pay for such waters as were to be supplied henceforth to Pakistan, after this treaty, until such Time, Pakistan could find replacement for its needs from its own resources so on 04 May 1948,a agreement was signed, and Pakistan made to deposit in the reserve bank of India a sum, later to be specified by the Indian prime minister Nehru.

The Text of this ‘Inter-Dominion Agreement’ was in 7 articles, Foolishly signed by our team, Though even earlier the same looming issue had been thrashed in another meeting held in Jullundur, This meeting, was led by Sardar Shaukat Hayat, and Mr. Abdul Hameed, secretary Irrigation and the Chief secretary Hafiz Abdul Majeed ICS, and it was Not that Ghulam Mohammad and his team were unaware of the facts, and why did they fall for this blackmail, this has to be studied, The rules then before 31 March 1948 had been clear, the water and other division related issues had to be filed before the Arbitral Tribunal headed by Chief Justice of India, Sir. Patrick Spens, yet no such reference was filed by the Armed forces division member, Squadron- leader Asghar khan, nor the Army Member of Punjab boundary commission, Colonel Ayub khan, nor by Justice Munir or Justice Din Mohammad, also members of the same commission.

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In the aftermath of this 04 May 1948,manipulated- agreement, India started work on Harike Barrage, and by 1952 had completed the upstream of Ferozepur at the juncture of Beas and Sutlej, & the official diversion of Beas waters, was so completed, and the result was our waters were diverted to feed, Bhakra-Beas-Rajasthan Canal project. In order to meet the demand to irrigate the arid lands of Rajasthan, More water was siphoned from Pong Dam on Beas river and Thein Dam on the Ravi River, and so came a long 400 mile Rajasthan canal, from Hariki Barrage.

It would be of interest to understand the earlier manipulation of Beas waters by the British, Beas and Sutlej over a period of centuries have criss-crossed each other in their old beds, sometimes in early 1800’s when British were eyeing the Sikh state, they through a covert operation diverted Beas into Sutlej, prior to this time Beas fell in Chenab, Ravi, Jhelum united waters above Punjnad, and Sutlej joined united waters of Sindh river below Punjnad. Earlier in 1800’s,the Sutlej, was the dividing line between Newly created Bahawalpur state a ally of British, and the Sikh state of Rangit Singh, as it later expanded. In order to render BIST [beas-sutlej] doab of our parts, with Sikhs, then, a Arid land, this diversion was done and also to raise the volume of Sutlej river to take tonnage of the British pre-planned Streamer ships to ply on it.

In the making of Harike Barrage a mile-long bund was built on the right bank facing Pakistan, from the left side 28 bays were built-each with a vertical electrically operated gates, followed by a divide-Groyne including fish ladder and the under-sluices set 5 feet below the sill of the barrage for washing silt away from the canal intakes.

Work on Bhakra Dam project started in April 1948,when excavation work on two diversion tunnels of Sutlej was started and in Oct.1954 Sutlej was diverted after building the upstream and downstream Coffer Dams and excavating the foundations to a depth of 260 feet below the normal river level, laying of concrete began in Nov.1955, and, by 1958, the storage  of water, for the Khariff 1958 crop was ready,[this was the period when Ayub khan and Iskandar Mirza were busy playing their musical chair games]. The eventual Full height of this Dam is 741 feet, second to Hover Dam [743 feet] USA, by just 2 feet. And has a 90 km long artificial lake reservoir, called ‘Gobind Sagar’ with a storage of 9.34 Billion Cubic meters of water [One Cubic meter=35.3 Cubic Feet].

So we see, that while our statecraft was busy elsewhere, India proceeded with plans and execution of its pre-planned moves, while Indus water treaty was in making. The Harike Barrage was completed in 1952, even when the negotiators first met under World Bank auspices.

By July-1954 while both parties submitted their plans [which will be discussed in the fourth part of this article],The Indian Side, Nangal barrage on the Sutlej had been opened-The Rupar head works re-modelled to provide a new intake for the Bist-Jullundur doab canal and the Madhopur Head works had been re-modeled for the new small-Kashmir canal [Jammu] and the new-Ravi-Beas-LINK CANAL. Even the far flung Ganges Basin was given our waters via the Bhakra Dam-link to Jumna canal towards Delhi district.

No one here raised a voice on any forum, the media too was quite, one wonders why? it was a true blatant violation of the international water laws, The physical irrigational  partition of Eastern Basin of Indus was ready & Indus water treaty still under process.

[To be continued..]