indus water treatyPrelude to Indus Water Treaty 1960-Part One

By Naveed Tajammal

In the history of old Civilizations, many have ruled and gone-very few are remembered for their good deeds and the Valiant by the way, they fought the enemies, however of those Callous who sold their souls, for a better tomorrow a special name is reserved, and the stigma would hound them, as will be seen in due course of Time when our Water Wars commence and Millions will die, some would definitely seek out the true culprits who were the cause of these Wars.

The Wanton way in which our waters by right were signed away to India is being re-visited in this article.

Though half-hearted efforts were made in the span between 1947-1960,covering 13 years by some, but, as is seen none stood up for Pakistan and its historical right over the waters of Indus Basin.

It would be interesting for all to know, that, in the division of the assets of the Punjab as an entity of British India, West Punjab which was to become Part of Pakistan was entitled to 60% of the assets of the undivided province of Punjab. The Punjab boundary line of 1947 was probably the worst from the point of irrigational system, but the attempt to thwart Pakistan comes out clearly as will be explained. As per the mechanism of the Menon Plan [V.P. Menon was the constitutional adviser to the governor-general, Mountbatten] dated 3rd June 1947, with a pointed reference to the subsequent, reasons which led to, the Indus water treaty

1960,it was given, in the Plan, that to demarcate the boundaries of the two parts of British Indian Punjab, it was too based on ascertaining the ‘Contiguous Majority’, areas of Muslims, and non-Muslims-the makers, were also instructed to keep in account,’ ‘other factors’…..

With reference to above and the ‘Contiguous majority’ rule given in the, ”Menon Plan’, which relied on Census of 1941,Ferozepur and Zira Tahsils of District Ferozepure, were Muslim in majority, especially both adjoined old District boundaries of Lahore, no river intervened in between nor any non-Muslim majority tahsil.

And coming to,”other factors’, awarding Ferozepure Tahsil by itself alone would have preserved the Sutlej valley project. Radcliffe played dirty and our lot turned a blind eye to the events. One trumped up change in the 3rd June Plan, was hyped by Radcliffe, was, that it would Not be the actual course of Sutlej that would be the dividing line between the new Provinces but, the district boundaries, Even if we went by the district boundaries of Lahore, upstream of Ferozepur Headwork ,the boundary of Lahore crossed over the southern Bank of Sutlej, and award gave Pakistan a bridgehead upstream, here Pakistan could have constructed a new Barrage to serve the Dipalpur Canal and, short circuited Ferozepur  headwork’s, placing the Bikaner & Eastern canals network of irrigating than,1,080,316 Acres of land in India, dependent upon goodwill, of Pakistan. It was this fear which drove the Indians to later divert the waters of Beas and Sutlej from Harike Barrage upstream, between 1948-1952.The point, to highlight was to bring to notice the continued Shenanigans of Indians since inception. Yet our placid lot never took notice of long term moves of Indians which were an open secret to all.


Likewise Giving to the Indians Gurdaspur,” other factors’ came into play, the cause being the same story of irrigational headwork’s as was seen in Ferozepur. Beside

the road access which India needed for Kashmir, Gurdaspur held the main headwork’s which supplied the UBDC [upper bari doab canals] network, at Madhopur

in the Pathankot tahsil, as well the bifurcations of the main Kasur and Sabraon branches, from the same canal network, though the reality and figures speak otherwise,

Gurdaspur had only 90,000 acres irrigated by this network, Amritsar had 418,000 Acres, the maximum, were in Lahore District,792,000 Acres dependent upon this

canal networks [Census of Density-water supply and crops-page 4].In other words control of UBDC system was more important to Lahore district, besides the fact that, this was further important as Lahore had its whole population of 671,659 souls dependent upon the supply of water from UBDC for its municipal water needs.

Thus if irrigation considerations were taken in combination with communal population requirements, Radcliffe, would have been amply justified in awarding the

whole Gurdaspur District, as of the four tahsils, all were of Muslim majority, but for Pathankot which had a slight majority of non-Muslims, and Tahsils of Ferozepur and Zira to Pakistan. Had this happened a check and balance would have ensured good relations by both, the countries and common needs to cooperate would have remained.

Radcliffe played dirty in cahoots with Indians, as it was only on 17 August, three days, after independence of Pakistan, That the publication of his report was made public. only Shakargarh tahsil out of four tahsils of Gurdaspur was awarded to Pakistan, rest three, Gurdaspur, Batala & Pathankot went to Indians. From Lahore side instead of awarding Ferozepur and Zira, he awarded two-thirds of eastern Kasur Tahsils to India, from the Lahore District. Presumably to keep intact the areas served by the, Kasur and Sabraon Branches of the UBDC.

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In retrospect, the award does not in any way reconcile the giving of two tahsils of Ferozepur and Zira as well the eastern two-third of Kasur, and Gurdaspur to India,

either on the bases of a contiguous borders or on the bases of irrigation considerations, If the irrigation factor was strong enough at Gurdaspur to vitiate the communal majority principle to the extent of partitioning a Muslim majority district and awarding Pathankot with a slight edge in majority of  non-Muslims, as well of awarding two full tahsils of Muslim majority of Gurdaspur itself and Batala-Than for Pakistan the irrigation consideration should have prevailed as was the case for India in Gurdaspur, at the least to the extent of giving Pakistan the control of the right hand portion of the Headwork, with the intake of Dipalpur canal.

In other words if Ravi was the logical boundary in Gurdaspur, than, the Sutlej should have been in Ferozepur district as well. Such a arrangement would have forced both the parties [India & Pakistan] to cooperate from the start and there would have been no need for a Indus Water Treaty.

Here it is pertinent to note that Gurdaspur had been awarded to Pakistan, even as per earlier outline/ blueprint of the division of Punjab, and later provisionally included districts of western Punjab, as can be seen from Menon Plan of 3rd June 1947, and the Indian independence Act of 18th July 1947.It was on these grounds that on the 14 August 1947,Muslim Civil Servants of Gurdaspur had raised the Flag of Pakistan in Gurdaspur and were in process of takeover of administration when on 17August 1947 the Radcliffe award was made public, and these public servants sent across the border to Pakistan. Why Pakistan state did to react to this nor fully endorse the attack on Kashmir, knowing full well that the only route to Kashmir went through Gurdaspur, and the track, was so bad that it could not fully take military transport traffic, via the Bunial pass, to Srinagar, it was much later when Banial tunnel was made, and the road was broaden and metalled that it could take Military, vehicles, Pakistan had every right, then, to reclaim it provided the leaders knew how to do so.

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The rush in which the division of irrigational networks was done, with Indians being aggressive in the follow up and our lot dwindling their thumbs if seen now in the hindsight, even though, both Partition council and the check on it, the Arbitral Tribunal continued in existence even after 14 August 1947,till 31 March 1948,The partition council dealt with matters relating to assets, liabilities, of the staff, records of revenue matters, currency & coinage, as well of foreign relations & the Armed Forces. It worked through a steering committee under which came ten experts [officials] in the dispute matters, and the last resort being the Arbitral Tribunal, which had three members, from each governments inclusive of the British.[ Ch. l.V.P. Menon the Transfer of power pp-397/98].

All disputes were to be settled by the end of the fiscal year ending 31st March 1948,as per the standstill agreement between India & Pakistan signed on 18th December 1947.The allocation of waters was to be maintained as per the pre-partition allocation of waters, in the canal networks.

[to be continued]