By Senator Rehman Malik
Water is a basic necessity of life from the day one of human existence. The world entered into modern era with generation of energy, which is through oil and water. The utility of water is more vital as it provides lifeline to every living creature being the only vital important component of survival of the world.
Blocking of water reminds us of Karbala and Modi by blocking of water wants to deprive Pakistan of water to convert her into desert. In fact, Modi is following a full fledged anti Pakistan agenda. Initially he got Pakistan diplomatically isolated, developed closer relations with USA at the cost of Pakistan, created close network with Afghanistan to get more pressure on western boarders and then sponsored a book under the name of “Contractor “by Raymond Davis, which was fully financed by the Indian RAW followed by FATA dirty propaganda on the statement of former PM and then book co authored by former Head of RAW and Gen Durrani, former DG/ISI and now this water bomb. According to the larger plan India will continue to break the Indus Water Treaty.
India has worked out that the one of the national key quotients is water and hence India will continue to block water flow from India to Pakistan. PM Modi has created now a water bomb for Pakistan and the first water bomb has been thrown on Pakistan by blocking of our legitimate natural watercourse. India has completed its construction of Kishanganga hydropower project on the Neelam River by diverting the watercourse through a 16 km tunnel, which is clear violation of the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.
The Kishanganga River, upon entering Pakistani territory is recognized as Neelam River that originates from Indian occupied Kashmir, and flows through the Gurez Valley to join Jhelum River near Muzaffarabad, at Domail, in Azad Jammu Kashmir. The construction of Kishanganga Dam is also in violation of Article III (4) of the Indus Water Treaty, which places an obligation or restriction on India not to construct any similar projects on western rivers, that is, on Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. Also, the construction of Kishanganga project will adversely affect the Neelam-Jhelum project, as its power generation capacity will reduce radically. In accordance with Article III (2) of Indus Water Treaty, India is also prohibited from developing any human made obstructions that shall have or may cause a change in the volume of the natural flow of western rivers.
The project includes a 121 feet tall concrete-face rock-fill dam, which will divert a portion of river to south through a 24 km tunnel. The diversion would reduce the flow of water into Pakistan by about 11 per cent in summer and about 27 per cent in winter, which would be contrary to Indus Water Treaty as the western rivers belong to Pakistan. We claim that the project would reduce the power generation capacity of the 969-megawatt Neelam-Jhelum plant by about 11 per cent. It also contends that the diversion would result in an ecological disaster for the area. Pakistan had decided to raise the issue in the International Court of Justice on the basis of directions of Permanent Court of Arbitration, clauses of the Indus Basin Treaty 1960. But unfortunately when Pakistan was asked to provide all the evidences regarding the issue, we could not provide the required data. We requested for ten days more and even after 10 days we failed to produce any evidence. While we were on the verge of our fight for water against India, on 25th June 2013, Nawaz Sharif took oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan and he did not appoint a Foreign minister and because of having no Foreign minister we failed to defend our right and on 20th December 2013, international court gave decision in India’s favour adding that Pakistan could not produce any data to support its claims. Had there been any other country they would have been concerned but our then government of PMLN seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. They did not pay attention to the consequences of the project. After the judgment, India got the right to build the dam, and it started playing on the front foot by blatantly violating the water treaty. We wasted our time here as well hoping that we would get appointment to meet World Bank President in April. But it never happened as we were told that the President is busy and after inauguration, the meeting will have no effect. India has signed all the important Convention that, with complete effect, would ruin our valley totally. It is sad to note that neither our Government nor the opposition is taking this matter seriously whereas the water issue is supposed to be the issue of life and death.
It is also pertinent to mention that the International Court of Arbitration was constituted in 1923, and since then it has been helping to resolve difficulties in international commercial and business disputes to support trade and investment. It performs an essential role by providing individuals, businesses and governments alike with a variety of customizable services for every stage of their dispute. Although they are called a court in name, but do not make formal judgments on disputed matters. Instead, they exercise judicial supervision of arbitration proceedings. It cannot pass any judicial judgements and we do not expect Justice from this Forum. Let us briefly see the salient features of the Indus Waters Treaty are:
Three Eastern Rivers namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beyas were given to India.
Three Western rivers, Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were given to Pakistan. Pakistan to meet the requirements of its Eastern river canals from the Western rivers by constructing replacement works.
Safeguards incorporated in the treaty to ensure unrestricted flow of waters in the Western rivers. Both parties were to regularly exchange flow-data of rivers, canals and streams. A permanent Indus Waters Commission was constituted to resolve the disputes between the parties. The Treaty sets out the procedure for settlement of the differences and disputes. It also provides for settlement of disputes through the International Court of Arbitration. Thus, future prospects persuaded the two countries to agree to a partition of the Indus Basin waters. Both countries were expected to exploit their respective water shares with the help of an Indus Basin Development Fund to be administered by the World Bank. The past experience with India is that India does not abide by any treaty. It is now a hard fact that India has decided to steal away our water and we start facing shortage of water by 2025 and hence we need to find alternate ways to meet our requirement. Let us see what are our alternate ways to fulfil our needs. Let us have a look on our annual rainfall in our country. We do have reasonable rainfall during the year and especially in July and August. The heavy rainfall causes floods and this rainwater ultimately falls in the sea unhindered, which is sheer wastage of rainwater. There is no such plan or scheme to store this rainwater in the form of small dams.
Half of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August, averaging about 255 millimetres in each of those two months. The remainder of the year has significantly less rain, amounting to about fifty millimetres per month. Pakistan receives 145 million-acre feet of water every year. However, only 14m acre-feet of water are preserved and we can meet the shortage if we have proper storage of rainwater and floodwater. Like we are dependent on water flow from India, India is dependent on China via Brahmaputra River, which is also known as the Yarlung Tsangpo and has its source in Chemayungdung glacier in Tibet. The river flows into three densely populated nations of the world-China, India and Bangladesh. India, which is the middle riparian of the Brahmaputra River, has sour relations with China, which control the source of this river in Tibet yet China has not blocked the flow of water. For India, the Brahmaputra River is of great importance for two reasons: first, The River, accounts for 29% of the total run-off of India’s rivers, is key to India’s river linking project; second, The Brahmaputra basin possess about 44% of India’s total hydropower potential. It is time for Pakistan to seek help from China to resolve the issue with India through its leverage on the source of water flowing to India. The blockade of water by India to Pakistan would, eventually, affect the proper utilisation of CPEC and the power projects especially Neelam Power project, being developed by China would also badly suffer.
Indus Water Commission needs to wake up, do their job and save Pakistan’s water resources and preserve them. It has already committed criminal negligence by not proactively safeguarding the water interests of the country.
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics. firstname.lastname@example.org. @senrehmanmalik