Indo-Afghan collusion to deny water to Pakistan

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Sultan M Hali

FOLLOWING the Indian false flag operation in Uri, India has declared war on Pakistan. It is leaving no stone unturned to tighten the screw on Pakistan. To Pakistan’s relief, most of its machinations have gone awry but Pakistan needs to be on its guard since it is dealing with an enemy which is following Chanakyan guile of deceit. Succumbing to public pressure to teach Pakistan a lesson for its alleged backing of the Uri attack, India launched a series of “surgical strikes”. For a while Indian masses believed deception but soon the cat was out of the bag. Modi tried to place Pakistan on the anvil and strike it with a sledge hammer at Goa, venue of BRICS Summit. Modi proposed stern action against Pakistan and have sanctions imposed against two proscribed Pakistan based organizations, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba but China opposed the move and scuttled it while Russia looked the other way as its erstwhile ally India was battered at Goa.
Indian sponsored bill was moved by two US Congressmen to declare Pakistan a terrorist state, which did not receive the expected traction. US based Indian Diaspora circulated a petition on the web to condemn Pakistan’s alleged support to terrorism. US State Department blocked the website. India did receive a modicum of success when it boycotted the SAARC Summit being hosted by Pakistan and three of its surrogates, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan followed suit. India has also banned Pakistani players and artistes from performing on its soil. It is time Pakistan hit back by banning Indian movies and dramas too. Now India and its client state Afghanistan are actively exploring run-of-the river projects on Afghanistan’s eastern rivers to deny water to Pakistan. Of particular interest is river Kabul, “Times of India” said in a report quoting senior Indian officials, speaking off record. River Kabul has some features identical to River Chenab in J&K, including similar recorded average flow of around 23 million acre feet. Indian government is trying to persuade Afghanistan to build run of river projects over it.
In retaliation to Uri attacks, India had upped the ante by giving the go-ahead to three run of-the-river projects on river Chenab. These had earlier been put on hold due to objections raised by Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). India was threatening to abrogate the IWT and stop Pakistan’s waters but it was advised by its own legal experts that it could not do so unilaterally. Meanwhile China has blocked a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro-power project which could cause serious concern in India as it may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries, state media reported today.
The Lalho project on Xiabuqu river, a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (the Tibetan name for Brahmaputra), in Xigaze in Tibet involves an investment of 4.95 billion Yuan (USD 740 million), Zhang Yunbao. Xigaze — also known as Shigatse — is located close to Sikkim, and from here the Brahmaputra flows into Arunachal Pradesh. Last year, China had operationalised USD 1.5 billion Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on Brahmaputra River, which raised concerns in India.
Indian officials claim that Pakistan does not have any treaty with Afghanistan. The rules governing flows of Afghanistan’s eastern rivers, mainly Kabul, Kunnar and Chitral, into Pakistan are just some internationally accepted principles. By helping Afghanistan build some of these run-of-the-river projects, India aims to send a very strong signal to Pakistan. When Afghan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani visited India last month, officials said, he specifically raised the possibility of developing Afghanistan’s eastern river system while conveying gratitude on India completing Salma dam project despite serious terror threats.
Pakistan’s nemesis Afghanistan’s Former President Hamid Karzai is back to his old tricks of Pakistan baiting. He appealed to the people of Kashmir not to be used by Pakistan for vested interests. He called upon Kashmiris to learn from Afghanistan’s example. Speaking to CNN-NEWS18 he said, “We also thought a foreign power was helping us do the right thing but then the foreign power had its own interests and we were used as cannon fodder. I hope our brothers and sisters in Kashmir will be wiser and live with rest of India in peace and prosperity”.
Karzai backed Prime Minister Modi’s statement at the BRICS statement that Pakistan was the ‘mothership’ of terror in the region and also the biggest challenge to the economic growth of Afghanistan. The Former President has been asking America to take action against terror sanctuaries beyond Afghanistan for 15 years. Sharply criticizing the US he said, “US also shares a great deal of responsibility for ignoring sanctuaries for years and for supporting those who provide support for extremism. We hope US will change its policy and not use pragmatic interests of its country at the cost of promotion of extremism elsewhere in the world”.
The Former President backed India for the surgical strike against terror launch pads across LoC. He said the US should be doing the same against terror havens beyond Afghanistan. Karzai said boycotting SAARC was a diplomatic tool and he hoped it would pressurize Pakistan into recognizing that it needs to see this region differently. He hoped that India and Afghanistan would not have to look at a SAARC minus Pakistan but said, “If we keep failing to make Pakistan realize then we should seek alternatives”. Despite Nawaz Sharif’s direct interference in Kashmir and Pakistan government’s inaction against terror groups, Karzai said Nawaz was someone who wanted peace with India and Afghanistan and wanted peace and prosperity in Pakistan but ‘he no longer had means to do that’.
At a time when India has started highlighting human rights violations in Balochistan, Karzai stated that offering political asylum to people there was a good step. He said, “I endorse PM Modi’s statement from Red Fort, people of Balochistan are under- developed, we must respect their right for self determination and a life free from violence”. Karzai is an ungrateful person while Afghanistan tends to be oblivious to Pakistan’s hospitality to the Afghan refugees. They may support India now but will suffer from the consequences since India is aiding them to spite Pakistan.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.