India manipulating IWT
Dr. Raja M Khan
A well-known US scholar and expert of South Asia Mr Stephan P. Cohen once observed, “The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is a model for future regional cooperation, especially on energy, environmental concerns, and even the management of the region’s impressive water resources.” While developing this hypothesis, the US scholar was impressed with the contents and framing of the IWT. He perhaps was ignorant of the Indian manipulation of IWT and using this treaty to her benefit and against the lower riparian, Pakistan. Being upper riparian, India has been manipulating with rivers and water of rivers, which were exclusively dedicated for Pakistan.
Just for setting the stage for further debate, the “Indus River System” comprises three eastern rivers; Ravi, Sutlej and Beas and three western rivers; Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. As per the Indus Water Treat (IWT)-1960, India got exclusive right over the water of three eastern rivers and Pakistan was given water of three western rivers. World Bank brokered IWT in September 1960, after almost a decade of hectic diplomacy and negotiations. Indeed, India manipulated the partition plan of Sub-continent in such a way that, it got the possession of all major head works, of Indus River System, releasing water to Pakistani area (after partition). Indeed, the partition of the Punjab was manipulated in such a way that, it got possession of areas adjacent to Kashmir and control of all water sources and head-works.
Since the partition of India suited her in all respect, therefore, just after a year of decolonisation, through a pre-planned strategy, India stopped the water flow to Pakistani areas, creating a crisis for the agrarian economy of Pakistan. Pakistan was forced to pay for the water for some time and later, international mediation, facilitated the process. IWT worked well for some time; however, India started manipulating with the water of the western rivers in 1980s. In a series of manipulations, India started constructing barrages, water storages and even divergences in the main watercourses of these rivers.
Construction of Wullar Barrage stared in 1984, over Jhelum River. Baglihar Dam was constructed over Chenab River in 2008. Kishanganga Hydoelectric Power project over Neelum River is under construction. A number of dams and water storages have been made or under construction on all these rivers, where Pakistan had exclusive rights. These are the major water dams and storages by India over the western rivers, whose water was exclusively reserved for the Pakistani usage. India is in the process of constructing dozen of dams and water storages over these western rivers in violation of IWT.
Apart from the water manipulation along western rivers, India was supposed to release a certain amount of water for maintaining the environment along the watercourses along three eastern rivers. Nevertheless, it has never regarded those clauses of the IWT. Rather release the water during monsoons, causing flood in vast areas of Pakistan. In a way, India is involved in water terrorism in Pakistan. Indian water terrorism effect Pakistan in two ways. It control and manipulate the water of the western rivers through the construction of a number of barrages, water divergences and dams, thus eventually converting the huge agricultural land into desert. India fully understands that, Pakistan has agrarian economy and through water terrorism, it can destroy Pakistani economy. Secondly, India release huge water in all rivers, during rainy seasons and monsoons, another line of attack for causing damage to Pakistani economy and society. The former Pakistani Commissioner of Indus Water Jammat Ali Shah has greatly harmed the Pakistani interests, once he played at the hands of India. Now he has shifted to some Western country. He indeed, wilfully of otherwise kept the Govt of Pakistan in darkness and allowed India to construct all these dams and water storages all along western rivers. There is need that, Pakistani officials associated with IWT must pursue case of Indian water terrorism against Pakistan at all international forums. Pakistani water experts, scholars and media must highlight Indian strategy of water manipulation.
The need of the hour is to compel India to abide by the IWT in its true letter and in spirit. In this regard, the World Bank, UN and other international organizations and forums must play their part. The continuous India water manipulation of western rivers by India is great concern for the Pakistan. This Indian water terrorism may invite water-based conflicts in South Asia, which is already instable and war prone.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.