INDUS BASIN WATER TREATY: A PIECE OF WASTEPAPER
PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
Dec 26, 2011 - Jan 1, 2012
The bitter feelings are gradually being intensified in Pakistan that India is making efforts to reduce river water flow to Pakistan by planning to construct dams. Because of that, agriculture of Pakistan will have to face a severe water shortage. These rivers are the lifeblood for agriculture.
Three rivers, flowing through occupied Jammu and Kashmir, enter Pakistan. Kashmir is the bone of contention between the two countries.
Pakistani press, religious leaders, and policy makers are showing their concern to Indo-Pak water issue. Well known Pakistani columnist Amir Ayaz, former chief of ISI Hameed Gul, and Indus Basin Water Council are of unanimous opinion that India is busy in creating food, water and energy crisis in Pakistan by using the dominant part of water of the rivers flowing in Pakistan.
Pakistan is concerned with six rivers, which flowing from Northern India including Jammu and Kashmir and State of Punjab enter in Pakistan.
Both Kashmir and Punjab were divided into India and Pakistan in 1947. Dispute over the distribution of river water began from the very beginning of 1947 for the solution of which 'Indus Basin Water Treaty (IBWT)' came into being through mediation of the World Bank.
Although IBWT is a strong pact between the two nuclear states but it could not work in its spirit. This treaty determines the legal share of India and Pakistan in the waters of six rivers. All the six rivers (Sindh, Chenab, Jhelum, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi), flowing from Northern India, enter Pakistan. According to the water treaty, Pakistan is entitled to use the waters of Sindh, Chenab and Jhelum rivers while India has a right to use waters of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi before their entries into its neighboring country.
Amongst all these rivers, Chenab is main which, collecting water of four rivers, drops it in river Indus. In this water system, river Indus and Chenab are life cord for the agriculture economy of Pakistan.
BAGLIHAR DAM ON RIVER CHENAB
River Chenab, collecting water from four rivers, drops it in river Indus. India began to construct hydroelectric power plant on Chenab in 1990 called Baglihar Dam. One of the phases of this dam with the capacity of 450 MW has been completed in 2008. Baglihar Dam is one of the 67 projects planned to be constructed in Jammu and Kashmir. Out of 67 projects, 19 have been completed. It is the unanimous opinion of Pakistani press, religious and political leaders that Baglihar Dam is a direct threat to Pakistan.
Complete control on water can convert Pakistan into a vast desert. Moreover, India can divert floods towards Pakistan during war times by releasing water from this dam. Although, India is busy in completing different water projects in Jammu and Kashmir but Baglihar is strategically important for Pakistan.
Dropping rate of water flow to Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that Pakistan, 60 years back, was getting 5000 cusec meter per capita which reduced to 1200 cusec meter per capita in 2009 and it is estimated that it would further be reduced to the extent of 800 cusec meter per capita by 2020.
Apart from water shortage, Pakistan has also been fighting against other internal issues due to which water issue has become more sobering.
Population of Pakistan is increasing with a tremendous rate, which would reach to 250 million after a few years. Shortage of water, coupled with shortage of wheat, sugar, oil and energy, would raise a mountain of problems.
Since Pakistan has no capacity for storing water in the form of reservoirs and dams, 3,68,119 cusec meter river water is wasted every year.
In addition to this, different provinces, blaming one another for unjust distribution of river water, add fuel to the fire.
Pakistan, due to Baglihar Dam, would get 3,21,000 acres feet less water in agriculture season. Thirteen million acres land along river Chenab and Ravi would become the victim of serious shortage of water due to which the country will have to import food grains that create unbearable pressure on foreign change reserves. In short, India desires to convert Pakistan into a desert.
During the last three years, bitterness in the dialogues between India and Pakistan over ongoing and proposed water and power projects in Jammu and Kashmir, has reached to its height. Political leaders of Pakistan are calling India the eternal enemy of Pakistan. It is blamed that India is planning to make the economy of Pakistan paralyzed.
Pakistani political leaders stress upon the point in their public speeches that India, with the help of America, is hatching nefarious designs against Pakistan under the leadership of Israel.
Baglihar Dam is considered to be the 'water bomb' dropped on Pakistan.
An official of Pakistan Indus Basin Water Council, in an article, wrote that India desires to achieve the objectives through this 'water bomb' which she could not achieve through three wars fought with Pakistan during the last 60 years.
If India could not be stopped to construct 50 proposed dams on the rivers entering Pakistan, Pakistan will have to face historic famine and destruction of the economy.
Apart from 50 dams, the proposals of 10 dams are also ready. It, therefore, becomes imperative for Pakistan to take measures for protection against the expected water crisis in the country and revise 'Kashmir Policy' too.
In accordance with the IBWT of 1960, India can't construct any dam on the river Indus, Chenab and Jhelum but can use the water of these rivers for her small power plants within the prescribed limit. India is legally bound to provide the details of any planned project to Pakistan.
Pakistan raised various technical objections concerning the design, size, gates, spillways, and storing capacity of Baglihar Dam.
Discussions and dialogues between India and Pakistan are continued since last year on the problems arising out of construction of the dam but no solution has so far been sought out within the framework of the water treaty.
Pakistan served the final notice to India in 2003 for solving the dam issues but it went unnoticed.
Pakistan contacted the World Bank in 2005 for mediation in this behalf. The World Bank contended that it was not the guarantor of IBWT nevertheless it could appoint an expert to look into the matter and give his verdict.
The bank appointed a neutral Swiss expert Prof. Raymond Lafitte who, rejecting almost all objections raised by Pakistan, recommended that India should reduce the height of the dam by 1.3 meters.
He considered objections of Pakistan 'differences' rather a 'serious issue'. Pakistan is not satisfied so far with Lafitte's verdict.
Although India facilitated Pakistan for negotiating over the issue and Indian delegations also came to Pakistan to confirm Pakistani complaints but ice could not be broken.
Focus rests on water problem in all the dialogues between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has accused India many times for stopping Chenab water completely on Pakistan.
Hafiz Zahoorul Hassan, a member of the council, said that India did not allow even a drop of Chenab water for Pakistan from July 1, 2007 to January 26, 2008 but India refused to accept.
Talks between Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remained futile exercise. Ex-foreign minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on June 6, 2009 that "India is violating Indus Basin Water Treaty and if this attitude continues, peace of the region would be endangered". It is now being felt in Pakistan that IBWT has been proved to be in favor of India.
Ayub Mayo, president Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz has declared IBWT of 1961 an international conspiracy against Pakistan under which Pakistan is being deprived of its due share in river waters.
India has been using 80 per cent water of river Chenab and Jhelum and 60 per cent of Indus. Whatever India is doing in Jammu and Kashmir, we can do nothing in this behalf but the role of government should be questioned.
If these circumstances continue, Pakistan will have to face not only energy crisis but its agriculture would also be ruined. Chairman IBWC rightly questioned why are we heading to the 'collective suicide'.
'Water terrorism' of India is more dreadful than that of Taliban and the day is not far when Pakistan would also be standing in the line of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Chad. Water dispute between India and Pakistan is a very dreadful dispute. This new weapon of India is much more destructive for Pakistan than atom bomb. India would succeed in stopping water of river Chenab and Jhelum completely by the end of 2012. India deprived Pakistan by 1.2 million cusec water between September and October 2008.
Although Indian politicians regard Indo-Pak water problem a bilateral issue but Pakistani religious and political leaders, connecting it with Jewish lobby, call it an 'international conspiracy' against Pakistan.
According to Majeed Nizami of daily Nawa-e-Waqt, "three 'satanic' forces have been united against Pakistan and they are India, America, and Israel. If water problem is not resolved, Pakistan would be justified to initiate atomic war against India".
During completion of Baglihar Dam, India raised protective fence with the help of Israel in construction area and on the Line of Control. Moreover, sensitive equipments were installed with the support of Israel for stopping Kashmiri freedom fighters in dam's area and on the LoC.
NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENSE
Baglihar Dam was inaugurated in October 2008 and a week later major general Athar Abbas, Pak Army spokesman declared this dam a security risk for the country.
Various canals, drains and artificial distributaries used for irrigation become of strategic importance during war times. If the proposed dams, due to any reason, are broken, they would wipe Pakistan off from the existence. Construction of dams in Kashmir has given military, economic, and political supremacy to India over Pakistan. The fourth war, over the issue of dams, can be broken between India and Pakistan. India, through control over water, is planning to exercise control over South Asian Region.
Justice Javaid Iqbal (R), speaking in a seminar said that, "Pakistan should pressurize India to resolve the issue and if India is not ready then Pakistan should not be hesitant to declare war against India".
This water issue may become the cause of nuclear war between the two countries.
Until this problem is solved, 'Sword of Damocles' of nuclear clash will continue to hang over this region. The sooner this issue is solved the sooner would be the prevalence of peace in the region.
In April 2009, Asadullah Bhutto, leader of Jamat-e-Islami, said that India is our eternal enemy and from the day 1st of inception of Pakistan, she has been conspiring against Pakistan with the foreign assistance.
India, with the foreign cooperation, occupied Kashmir, second time she cut the eastern wing of Pakistan and now she is depriving Pakistan from its just share in river waters.
Although hot debates and public reaction in Pakistan would continue in the following years but nothing can be done particularly in case of Baglihar dam in view of the Lafitte's verdict.
There is one solution of this problem; both India and Pakistan should follow the water treaty of 1961 in letter and spirit.
It is in the common interest of both the countries to make these relations more close and strong. If it is not done, clashes would continue to occur on the matters of river water sharing, dams, toxic dumping in drains and illegal border crossing.
Raja Pervez Ashraf, ex-minister of water and power said in June 2009 "India, no doubt, is authorized to construct dams but not to stop waters of rivers entering Pakistan".