The water enmity


By Professor Ali Sukhanver:

The political government of Pakistan has been in a constant effort of establishing friendly relations with the neighbouring countries in spite of a lot of economic problems, continuous unfair international pressures and the ever hovering hostile clouds of enmity along the borders. It is not only the policy of the present government but on the whole the strategy of Pakistan since ever to promote cordial relationship with the neighbouring countries.

Following the same policy of friendship and alliance, a few days back President Asif Ali Zardari confirmed Pakistan’s consent on visa agreement between Pakistan and India which was signed between the two countries on September 8, 2012. The agreement aimed at giving more concessions and simplifying the procedure to grant visa with a view to promoting people-to-people contact.

The objective of this visa agreement between the two countries is to facilitate the travelers of the two countries to visit each other. Under this agreement, besides diplomatic, non-diplomatic and official visas, visitor visas shall be issued to the persons visiting the other country to meet relatives or friends or for any other legitimate purpose. With a validity of six months time period, this visa shall permit a visitor to visit a maximum of five specified places. This agreement would certainly bring the two countries more close to each other and generate a new air of trust and confidence between the two nations with a lot of positive changes but it could have been much better if the two countries had signed another agreement also regarding the decades long water conflicts.

According to the media reports a reduced flow of water at Head Marala has recently been noticed by the Pakistani water management authorities. This reduction in water flow would prove very much harmful and disastrous to the crops on a large area of Pakistan and it may lead to a situation of famine causing whole sale starvation. Snatching water from Pakistan and turning Pakistan into a wasteland has ever been an Indian desire. To fulfill her evergreen desire of changing Pakistan into a dry land, India has been working on different water projects since long. These projects include Kishinganga Project, the Baglihar Hydroelectric Plant, the Wullar Barrage Project and so many others.

The construction of the Wullar Barrage on the River Jhelum would provide India total control over River Jhelum and with the help of this project India would be in a position to deprive Pakistan of water of River Jhelum during winter seasons. This barrage would certainly affect the water of River Neelum also and it is feared that the water of River Neelum diverted towards Wullar Lake would be consumed within Wullar Lake and will not go in River Jhelum. Kishinganga Project is also one of the worst examples in this regard.

The Kishinganga Hydroelectric Project on the River Neelum is located near the Line of Control in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Under the Kishinganga Project, India has diverted the water of Neelum River through a canal system. The River Neelum is called Kishinganga River when it passes through India and the water of the River Kishinganga is reserved for Pakistan’s Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project, work on which started in 1989. The diversion of water in Kishinganga project will decrease water flow at Neelum-Jhelum project and generation capacity of this project will reduce by 20%. Moreover it will adversely affect agriculture in Neelum Valley and Muzaffarabad District of Pakistan.

According to the Indus water Treaty, exclusive rights of the western rivers water are with Pakistan but India has been violating these rights for the last many decades. World Banks arbitration court is also very well aware of the injustice done by India with reference to the construction of dams and barrages on the rivers flowing to Pakistan. The honourable court has recently issued orders allowing a Pakistani delegation to visit and inspect the site of Kishinganga Dam.

Earlier Pakistan had pleaded that illegal construction activity on the Kishinganga Dam was going on despite the stay orders issued by the arbitration court. Same was the case with the construction of The Baglihar Hydroelectric Plant. The Baglihar Hydroelectric Plant is located on River Chenab and its construction plan was communicated by India in 1992. It was commissioned in 2008.

During its initial filling, India again violated the clauses of the Treaty by not filling the dam in stipulated timeframe and by not ensuring requisite inflow at Marala Head Works of Pakistan. Construction of this dam caused huge amount of water losses to Pakistan. The drastic reduction of inflow at Marala resulted in acute scarcity of irrigation water for paddy crops in Marala command Canals area covering over more than 10,000,000 acres of land.

All these actions of India are nothing but simply the violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. The situation demands new water treaties between India and Pakistan otherwise as a result of water scarcity, Pakistan would become a desert land very soon. The government of Pakistan is taking revolutionary steps to minimize the differences and distances between the two countries by introducing new visa policies and trade facilities. But this reality must never be ignored that a wasteland could never be an attractive and profitable market for the traders.

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