By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

According to a 2009 study of the Purdue University, on the changing pattern of the climate, there would be an “eastern shift in monsoon circulation caused by the changing climate” causing “more rainfall over the Indian Ocean, Bangladesh and Burma and less rainfall over India, Nepal and Pakistan.” Taking the contents of this study as the baseline, and otherwise growing anxiety of Pakistan over the Indian manipulation of Pakistani rivers, US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations issued a report, projecting likely wars in South Asia between two water scare countries; Pakistan and India. The Senate report entitled, “Avoiding Water Wars” in South and Central Asia, indicate that, each water dam or water storage by India on the Western rivers; exclusively dedicated for Pakistan would have long-term affect on Pakistani agrarian economy.  The report absolutely clarifies that; “The cumulative effect of these projects could give India the ability to store enough water to limit the supply to Pakistan at crucial moments in the growing season,”

Out of over a hundred of the large and small water dams and reservoirs, being built by India on the western rivers, over 30 projects are nearing their completion and are likely to cause serious water shortages for Pakistan, a lower riparian country. Pakistani concern over Indian violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) are date back to 1980s, once India started constructing the Waullar Barrage over river Jhelum, a tributary to Indus river. Although the project was stalled on the Pakistani protests, but, India initiated many other projects of water storage and construction of dams on almost all the rivers of Pakistani share. Some Major projects like Baghaliar dam on river Chenab have already been completed. This water dam has caused over 30 percent reduction in the flow of water on Pakistani side. Other projects like Kishenganga are on their way to completion, despite Pakistani protests and asking for arbitration.

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While initiating construction of a dam or the water storage project on these western rivers, India have been quoting two excuses: first; Pakistan is unable to preserve its water by constructing dams and water storages in its territory, resulting into a huge quantity of water flowing down to Arabian Sea, therefore, it (India) is securing it. Second; these water dams and storages are for the utilization of the people of Kashmir, under Indian occupation. Indeed, both excuses are without logics.  While this is a reality that we in Pakistan have not been able build sufficient water reservoirs to preserve the surplus water especially during the rainy season. Nevertheless, this does not give India with enough cause to encroach over the Pakistani share of water and in the long run plans to permanently deprive Pakistan from its share of water, thus converting the agricultural land of Pakistan into the barren fields.

Secondly; the current electricity requirements of the people of Occupied Kashmir is 5000 megawatts and only a limited portion of the land could be irrigated by the river’s water, mostly, it is the rain fed arid land. It means shifting of the water of these rivers to Indian Territory through a phased programmed. Furthermore, practically, India is working on the projects through which it could produce over 40,000 megawatts of electricity, which means, the production of electricity would be much more than the requirements of the Kashmiri under Indian occupation. This electricity in turn would be used to sustain the heavy industrialization of the India, otherwise, causing environmental degradation in the region. It is because of the growing industrialization of India and some other countries that has affected the rapid melting of the snow of the glaciers in Himalayas.   

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As revealed in the research report of the Purdue University, the climatic changes in the East are a reality. India however, has started these projects much earlier. There are a number of reasons, why India is doing so. India, in fact, stopped water flow to Pakistan in 1948, within the first year of the independence of Pakistan.  Being a successor state of the British India, it had all the resources and international backings, whereas, Pakistan was a resource scare country. India indeed, has started creating these problems for Pakistan right from its inception, so that, it can undo Pakistan. Indus Water Treaty, concluded in 1960, stood the test of time for many decades. However, it is about time that India should stop manipulating with the treaty and interpreting it in its own benefit.  In fact, this Indian water manipulation has compelled the international community to analyse and forewarn the South Asians, regarding the dreadful effects of a war, emanating over the water crises. Rather, undesired manipulation with the waters of the Western rivers, exclusively dedicated for Pakistani use, as per IWT, India is bound to release certain amount water in the Eastern Rivers, to avoid the environmental degradation. But, practically it never did that, except to cause the floods during the monsoons.

The US Senate report on the projected water wars in South Asia, caused by Indian deliberate stoppage of water to Pakistan is timely and rational. Although, any conflict over this extremely essential commodity would devastate the region by itself, nevertheless, it would seriously hamper the US future interests in South Asia too.  This is indicative from the wordings of Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while releasing the report. He said; “the report highlights how water security is vital in achieving our foreign policy and national security goals and … provides recommendations to foster regional cooperation and long-term stability.” The provisions of the treaty do not allow India with unconstrained space to manipulate with the water of the Western rivers. India therefore, is adamant to violate the treaty or else, it would not hesitate to abrogate it, to exercise it hegemonic power in the region. US Senate, however feels that, “A breakdown in the treaty`s utility in resolving water conflicts could have serious ramifications for regional stability.”

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Pakistan appreciates a very timely and realistic assessment of the US Senate Committee report on the likely future wars in South Asia over the water resources. However, Pakistan would appreciate any US role for bringing India to a negotiating table for the result oriented talks between both countries over all the disputes, water being one of them. India must realise that, we are in an era, where international norms are to be respected. Gone are the days, once bigger powers used to overrun the smaller neighbours for the enlargement of the frontiers of their empires. Could America capture the tiny Communist state of Cuba? Therefore, Pakistan is a reality; India must accept this in the first instance and start living as a peaceful and responsible neighbour, respecting the sovereignty, integrity and independence of Pakistan.  This would bring peace, harmony and stability in South Asia, rather the current instability, caused by hegemonic designs of India.