India’s water aggression

PAKISTAN has been taking the issue of water aggression by  India somewhat lightly and facing the consequences that are  becoming more complicated with the passage of time but it seems we have not still learnt the right lesson. This became evident when Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif addressed the seminar on Indus Basin Treaty, organised by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, in which he warned India against unilateral modifications in the World Bank-brokered accord but tried to belittle the water security scenario by claiming that most of 148 MAF water that Pakistan receives is its own i.e. it is added to the system once Indus enters our territory. The Minister might be right but the country cannot afford the luxury of sitting idle when India is executing about three dozen projects effectively aimed at choking Pakistan’s share of water from western rivers. Kh. Asif himself has admitted that the Indus resembles like a stream when it enters Pakistan from Kashmir, which should be a source of concern as it means India is already controlling much of the Indus water and would render it into a dry stream as soon as it gets the ability to do so after completion of water reservoirs in different areas of Occupied Kashmir. Be it Jhelum, Indus or Chenab, the question is violation of the Indus Basin Treaty which allows run of the river hydel power projects but not water storages on three western rivers but almost all projects initiated by New Delhi are aimed at controlling flow of water. It is time we adopt an institutionalised approach to the emerging catastrophic scenario as we cannot allow our fertile land to be turned into barren tracts. Our relevant agencies should focus on securing authentic information and data on all projects being undertaken by India on western rivers and that too timely; the data should be analysed by experts and a comprehensive strategy formulated to safeguard interests of the country. Presently, we are dealing the issue on adhoc basis and have left it to our Indus Commissioner alone despite the fact that the former incumbent ditched interests of the country allegedly for the sake of petty personal gains. We should address all aspects of the issue i.e. technical, legal, political and diplomatic. At the same time, we are again guilty of criminal delay in implementation of the identified major water reservoirs despite the fact that these could not only help conserve precious water but also alleviate the menace of power load-shedding besides bringing down the overall electricity tariff.

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