We are all aware that Pakistan is faced with a number of serious problems and threats, each of which seems to be more serious than the other. However, of all the problems none is more threatening than the schemes of Hindu India to block the water of Pakistan’s Rivers, thereby causing water famine in the country. Unfortunately, awareness of this threat has been lacking on the part of Pakistan’s rulers in the past. But we cannot afford to ignore it any longer because the consequences will endanger not just the agriculture, economy and the stability of Pakistan but its very survival. India knows this vulnerability of Pakistan and fired by its eternal enmity to this country has been moving ahead with plans to hit Pakistan hard in the sensitive sphere of water. India, as you would also know by now, is constructing 58 dams and water reservoirs on Pakistan’s Rivers, Chenab, Jhelum and Sindh. Realizing the great danger that Pakistan is about to face through acute scarcity of water, we have held several conferences and exclusive sessions with professional experts in this field at the Nazaria Pakistan Trust. What role would Nazaria have if the country’s survival was not ensured first. The picture that emerged from the evaluation of the situation by the experts is far grimmer than what we had generally known through media reports. History has acknowledged now that the unannounced dishonest alteration in the Punjab boundary line made by Radcliff and Mountbatten at the time of the Partition in August 1947, by which the two very important headworks of Madhopur on the Ravi and Ferozpur on the Sutlej were given to India, laid the foundation of depriving Pakistan of the water resources that historically and geographically belonged to it.
The Indus Basin Treaty (IBT) of September 1960, whose provisions clearly favoured India, and which the dictatorial Ayub regime accepted although it was against our national interest, was, similarly, designed to deny Pakistan even its rightful share of the water of the three allocated Rivers in the years to come. Added to the foreign sinister schemes is the painful factor of an ‘India lobby’ among our policymakers, which has let India go on violating the Indus Basin Treaty by building dams and diverting/blocking waters that belong to Pakistan. To divert the water coming into the Mangla Dam, India is building Ohrri Two Dam at River Poonch, Kishan Ganga Dam at River Neelum, and 19 Hydel-Projects at River Jhelum, aimed to be completed by 2012. Mangla Dam receives its stock of water from Rivers Jhelum, Neelum and Poonch. If this water is stopped, Mangla Dam would turn into a dry clay field. India is going ahead with the controversial Baghliar Dam on River Chenab, while Pakistan government, after raising belated objections, has still not taken the decisive steps that are necessary to have this project stopped. Its pathetic proof was seen at the fourth round of the so-called Composite Dialogue between the two countries held in Islamabad from 19-21 May 2008. According to the officials, “The contentious issue of the Baghliar Dam could not find place in the agenda of the foreign ministers’ talks despite Pakistan’s insistence.”
The government has all the experts and the data for evaluation of the dangers that this Dam poses to Pakistan. Just the few details mentioned below will give you an idea of the dangers to come, if the government does not confront India on the water issue. Baghliar Dam is of such a large size that, whenever it so wants, India can block 7000 to 8000 cusec-ft of water per day. Besides, India has already built 14 hydroelectric plants at River Chenab’s northern part and is building still more plants to enable it to block the entire water of Chenab for 20 to 25 days. If India were to store the water of Chenab and Jhelum for just 2 to 3 months, Pakistan’s agriculture would be ruined, with dreadful consequences for the nation. India plans to formally begin the operation of Baghliar Dam on June 30, 2008. If Pakistan fails to move quickly, the Indians, by completing their ongoing projects would have a powerful weapon in their hands. Blocking of the water of Chenab and Jhelum would result in: “ Denial of water to a vast region, including Multan, Jhang, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Okara, Sahiwal, Vehari, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur and Rahimyar Khan. “ 406 Canals and 1125 Distributaries will become dry, rendering 35 lakh acres of cultivated land barren, and eventually ruining a total of 70 acres of fertile land. “ The Marala Headworks, through which water from Chenab is poured into River Ravi that had dried up after it went into India’s control under the IBT, will stop functioning. The Ravi feeds the Canals along the border, which serve as a most important Defence Line. If Chenab’s normal flow stops, Ravi would have no water and the Border Canals would become dry. The Sindh Tas Water Council Pakistan, which has been engaged since 1984 in the in-depth study of India’s designs of denial of water to Pakistan, has discovered that India is actually working on a secret mega-plan that was drawn years ago with the aim of bringing Pakistan to its knees, when the time came, by subjecting it to total starvation of water. This mega-plan is being financed and implemented by a consortium consisting of India and three other countries (one of which is Israel), two multinational companies, one trans-national NGO and three secret agencies.
I was not exaggerating when a few weeks ago I warned our government to beware of India’s “Water Bomb.” We have no option now but to urgently take bold and decisive measures against the Indian schemes of subjecting Pakistan to devastation. But, no measures can be effective nor can succeed if Pakistan’s policies of giving India the image of a close trading and social partner and a friendly neighbor who poses no threat are not changed. Indeed, we have seen these misconceived policies proving demoralization and being harmful to our country, while facilitating India in promoting its schemes and strengthening its aims against Pakistan. The “water bomb” is a reality that Pakistan’s rulers must not overlook in the artificial scenario created by the so-called “confidence building measures.”
This article was originally published in The Nation on May 27, 2008.