Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Indian Silent Water War and Our Annoying Silence

Although, a segment of the press is doing its 'best' to usher in a new era in the Indo Pak relations in the name of 'Aman ki Aasha,' there does not seem to be a reciprocating response from across the border in the form of any positive friendly gestures or signals.

In fact the Aman ki Aasha (longing for peace) is restricted to a few open minded groups on both sides of the border who often meet and with much fanfare in the sponsoring newspapers, make tall woes for the advancement of the relations between the two countries. But in reality the 'Aman ki Bhasha' (the language of peace) both covert and overt is something that is not only annoying, but also a source of serious concern for us in Pakistan.

While the core issue of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved, there is yet another emerging issue that is far more severe with disastrous ramification for Pakistan - the Silent Indian War.

Signing of the Indus Basin Water Treaty between India and Pakistan [Pakistanpaedia]
After India and Pakistan reached the historic Indus Water Treaty in 1960, jointly signed by the then Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Pakistan's president Ayub Khan, the people of Pakistan took a sigh of relief that their future generations will be water starved by India as all water headways of rivers flowing into Pakistan are located i India. We lived with this 'khush fehmi' or the happy understanding for years. But it seems the good understandings have its days numbered critically very short.

India has recently embarked upon a grand strategy, completely tangent to the Indus Basin Water Treaty, that will starve Pakistan so badly that its economy will be reduced manifold. Here in under are some of the 190 'water management projects' that have either been started or will be started soon:
Completion of Baghliar dam on River Chenab
40 dams on Rivers Chenab and Jhelum
3 large dams and another 30 medium to small dams on River Indus in Kargil and downstream
Diversion of 45% water of Indus
Inter connectivity through canal system of waters of Chenab and Jhelum
 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydro-power project across the river Jhelum centres on the diversion of water from one tributary of the river to another
Not only this, New Delhi is financing and building 12 dams on River Kabul - an important fededer of River Indus, disregarding Pakistan’s historic water rights. The damming of River Kabul will severely reduce the water level of Indus once these dams are completed.
A few words about the Kishanganga Hydro Power Project: 

Kishanganga Dam project [Map Pak defence ]
Kishanganga dam is located about 160-km upstream Muzzafarabad and involved diversion of Kishanganga (called Neelam in Pakistan) to a tributary named Bunar Madumati Nullah of Jhelum river through a 22-km tunnel. Its power house will be constructed near Bunkot in Indian held Kashmir and the water will be re-routed into the river Jhelum through Wullar Lake.
This diversion will change the course of river Neelum by around 100-km, which will finally join river Jhelum through Wullar lake near Bandipur town of Baramula district in Indian held Kashmir. Presently, Neelam and Jhelum rivers join each other near Muzaffarabad at Domail.
As can be seen from the above map, the tunneling of Kishanganga Dam is so cleverly designed upstream of Pakistan's Neelam-Jhelum hydro project so as to seriously endanger and decrease the power generation capability of the proposed 969-MW Neelam-Jhelum hydropower project by more than 20 per cent or about 100-MW.
As per Indus Basin Water Treaty, the entire water of rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was guaranteed for Pakistan and that no storage facilities were to be built on these rivers that served as lifeline to Pakistan. But as we see, the recent clever ingress of Indian on water guaranteed to Pakistan under the UN approved Indus Basin Water Treaty, India has embarked upon the water war so cleverly and prudently that did not wake up up our concerned government quarters from their deep slumber and take appropriate steps. The hue and cry made by us on Baghliar dam was so late that the dam was already in place. even Pakistan Army sounded its concerns on the construction of said dam, but there was no response from our government to take timely action.

Recently, the ADB and World bank have regretted funding the Bhasha Dam, due to strong Indian lobbying. Now our government finds itself nowhere to turn to except China for the funding of the dam. Which for the time being does not seem to be responding on the issue.

Major General Tahir Ali has rightly showed his apprehensions and concerns over the Indian Water War and writes:
"Though the construction of new hydroelectric power projects and dams by India on the rivers feeding Pakistan in violation of Indus Water Basin Treaty and recently proposed construction of link canals to divert water from these rivers, are extremely detrimental to Pakistan’s future, yet the lack of meaningful response to these developments by the government is beyond comprehension. Even our other political leaders, media and the masses in general are showing indifference to this issue which actually should be considered as a matter of life and death for Pakistan. No need to emphasize that control over the water of these rivers would make Pakistan totally dependent on India’s goodwill."
Despite everything said and done, our successive governments have not attended to the water issue seriously with India or with the international arbitrators and have thus lost their case thus so far.

A US Senate Committee study has concluded that "The conflict between Pakistan and India over water resources is serious enough to lead to a war is indisputable.”

It is the duty of every sane Pakistani to understand the dangers threatening Pakistan in near future with India hell-bent to carry on with its water management projects - the projects which turn the green fields of Pakistan into desert and uncultivable, depriving us even to have our domestic crops to sustain our ever expanding population.

Not only starving Pakistan through controlling the river water inflow, India would also have the capability to release excessive water into Pakistan Punjab, as was done once before, that would inundate large areas of Punjab and Sind, destroying life, property and standing crops as and when in excess of water or if the water pressure starts to threaten Indian reservoirs.
We need to apprise ourselves more on the Silent Water War unleashed by India and talk about on all forums, while our government should concentrate more on issue threatening our sovereignty and independence rather than making plans only to win votes for next elections. It is very unfortunate that such strategic issues are not deliberated in our assemblies, where petty issues of who should have immunity and how are discussed and passed as legislation just in one day.

Despite Indian covert and overt activities to starve Pakistan, we are all set to grant the MFN status to India - if granted, the entire Pakistan market will be flooded with stuff from huge Indian market, benefiting the Indian businessmen and the Indian government, while meager Pakistan exports to India will be peanuts in size and will only benefit a few in Pakistan. Ultimately it will be Pakistan which will lose rather than gaining by providing the MFN status to India.

I would also want the so called "Aman ki Aasha' proponents to deliberate such issues rather than holding cultural and musical concerts or talking on art and fashion and giving the impressions that they are bringing the two countries closer – whereas the reality is just the opposite.

But having said all this, we must also look what we are doing to conserve and store water. India has planned almost 200 water storage and energy specific projects on its rivers. But we have not been able to reach at a consensus of Kalabagh Dam and have added no worthwhile storage and power generating projects since Tarbela Dam decades ago. We should also blame ourselves for our annoying silence vis-a-vis Indian water management projects and for not doing anything to put our house in order.

I will continue to write more about what we should have done or what we need to do now for our future.


Present lot at the helms of affairs in busy in "other" things. Such issue may be yours or mine priorities, not theirs. Sad.

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