India: The water bully : Pakistani Media
Pakistan signed the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with India under the aegis of the World Bank (WB) in 1960 in good faith. Unfortunately, India has not kept its end of the bargain and has repeatedly violated the IWT and constructed numerous hydroelectric power (HEP) projects, which have infringed on Pakistan’s water rights.
Pakistan has made two mistakes in this regard. Firstly, it did not plan and execute enough HEP projects of its own, secondly whenever Pakistan approached the IWT guarantor, the WB, it either went unprepared or did not pursue its case vigorously vis-à-vis India, which escaped penalties.
This time around, Pakistan has raised two objections. The first was against Kishanganga (KHEP) and the second against the Rampur (RHEP) projects, which it finds to be in violation of the IWT. In response to the meeting of a Pakistani delegation with the WB CEO held on May 21, 2018 for Resolution of Disputes on KHEP and RHEP, the Senior Vice President and Group General Counsel of WB has forwarded a letter to Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali.
The letter contains a summary of ideas on how to resolve the stalemate and offers two proposals for which the concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Water and Power as well as the AGP will shortly convene a meeting to finalise Pakistan’s response. The first proposal recommends that Pakistan accept India’s request to appoint a neutral Expert (NE), while the second proposal asks that India accept Pakistan’s request for emplacement of Court of Arbitration (COA).
Both proposals are worth considering but unfortunately, the Indian media has started a disinformation campaign propagating that Pakistan lost the case at the WB. Some elements of the Pakistani media have blindly parroted the Indian fake news, lowering the nation’s morale.
In the past, Pakistan had taken India to court over the Baglihar Dam project, which was in violation of the two countries’ water agreements. This merely resulted in India modifying the project’s design instead of halting it completely
India has a dismal track record when it comes to settling water disputes with its neighbours. It has had water related disagreements with Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Some of it’s actions could also be termed water terrorism. With Sri Lanka, its dispute involves the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project, which is a proposed shipping route in the shallow straits between India and Sri Lanka. This would provide a continuously navigable sea route around the Indian Peninsula. The channel would be dredged in the Sethusamudram Sea between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, passing through the limestone shoals of Adam’s Bridge also known as Rama’s Bridge, Ram Sethu and Ramar Palam. This a highly invasive project which could disturb the ecological balance and destroy corals. The area is an important fishing ground for Tamil Nadu, but India is proceeding with the project despite Sri Lanka’s protests.
Nepal shares 6,000 rivers and streams with India. Various treaties have been agreed on to divide the water between the two fairly, but all the treaties still seem to favour India more. This has affected Nepal’s agriculture and has disturbed relations between the two neighbours. Similarly with Bangladesh, the water dispute with India arises because the former is a lower riparian and the treaties signed have been disproportionately in favour of India.
Today, Pakistan is facing acute water shortage since no notable water storage projects have been executed. All the while, water coming downstream from the Himalayan glaciers’ is dumped into the ocean. India controls the spigots of the rivers flowing into Pakistan and diverts water for itself, depriving Pakistan of its fair share. When there is a surplus of water, India floods the rivers without warning, causing floods. In short, water is being used as a diplomatic tool of coercion against Pakistan, especially by the Modi regime.
In the aftermath of the September 2016 Uri attack, which India blamed on Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed unilateral changes to the IWT, which would disturb the status quo. Declaring that “water and blood cannot flow together” Modi stated that the Indus commissioners will meet only in the absence of terrorism. These commissioners meet twice a year to settle objections and complaints. The IWT has concrete modalities to settle disputes but India is trying to pressurize the WB into not intervening in response to Pakistan’s claims of Indian violation of the IWT.
Modi has decided to restart the Tulbul Project (Wullar Barrage) and to expedite the Kishanganga and Rampur Hydel Water projects. In the past, Pakistan had taken India to the court for the Baglihar Dam project, which was in violation of the two countries’ water agreements. This merely resulted in India modifying the project’s design instead of halting it completely.
The case is now open in the WB as Islamabad ponders over the two proposals forwarded by the guarantor. Meanwhile, Pakistan needs to set its own house in order and pursue the construction of dams to minimise its water shortage.
The writer is a retired Group Captain of PAF. He is a columnist, analyst and TV talk show host, who has authored six books on current affairs, including three on China
Source:- Daily Times PK