LAHORE Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a 'lifeline for the countrys faltering economy, would not only help meet that countrys future agriculture and power requirements but also ensure food and water security, thanks to the United States for backing the construction of the direly needed project. Water experts and top agriculturists say that Diamer-Bhasha Dam project would also extend the life of Tarbela Dam by 35 years and would help control flood damages in the country. However, water strategists warned that the project is likely to face opposition from Indian Lobbyists in the US Congress alleging that Pakistan had allowed Chinese military presence in Gilgit-Baltistan under the garb of repairing Karakoram Highway (KKH). The Indians term it a dangerous development for Indian security. The ground-breaking for the Dam in the Northern Areas by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has provided the Indian with an ample opportunity to initiate a fresh water row against Pakistan, Muhammad Ramzan Rafique, a Denmark-based Pakistani agriculture expert said. It is important to mention here that the reason for objecting Diamer-Bhasha Dam is Delhis stale argument that project is located in disputed territory and could cause floods in Indian-held Kashmir. This politically driven defence by Indian water authorities is totally unjust. Pakistan is a one-river-basin country and all of its hydroelectric power projects come from the Indus. Estimates suggest that while Pakistan has only achieved 11 per cent storage capacity, India on its allocated eastern rivers has accomplished 52 per cent. In the past, Pakistan benefited immensely from the major water infrastructure (Tarbela, Mangla, Chashma) built in the Indus basin. But now, the storage capacity of these reservoirs is being on a decline due to continuous sedimentation over the last 30 years. Pakistan is left with a very little water storage capacity. President Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz, Ayyub Khan Mayo said that Indian external strike against Pakistan is not restricted to just objecting the project rather it has an all-round and all encompassing strategy to destabilize Pakistan. In order to off-set the Gilgit-Baltistan government, he said, India has a well-thought-out policy of exhorting the people of the region to stand against the government in general and mega project, in particular. He also claimed that there is a credible evidence of Indian financial support for the separatist forces like Balawaristan National Front (BNF) to create mayhem in the Northern Areas. Defense experts say that the declaration of Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 that gave self-rule to the people of Northern Areas on the lines of AJK type of governance had frustrated the nefarious designs of India. Besides, India is also exploiting boundary dispute between Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa vis--vis royalty issue so as to derail the Diamer-Bhasha dam-building project. According to experts, this caused a delay of almost four years. Diamer-Bhasha was originally meant to be completed by 2017, but now will likely to be finished in 2021. However, WAPDA has come up with a plan that would evenly split the royalties earned from the hydroelectric power generation at the dam between the two provinces. WAPDA officials hope that the new plan which would set up six power generation units each in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will avert the escalation of a dispute. Pakistans experience in Tarbela and Mangla resettlement and profit-sharing has been exemplary. The government is considering resettlement costs of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam in such a manner that the people displaced by the projects benefit most from them, an official in the federal government said. According to him, approximately 28,650 people in 31 villages are affected by the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. In the wake of commitment to help Pakistan in energy generation ventures, the United States is backing the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. The supporters of a US role in the project say American participation would mend the United States tattered image, going a long way toward quieting widespread anti-Americanism. It is recalled that the United States was popular in Pakistan in the 1960s and 70s when Washington backed the construction of two enormous dams, Tarbela and Mangla. Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh showed his resolve by saying that despite financial constraints Pakistan will continue to work on major projects like the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. China, the US and the advanced European economies have searched far and wide for energy supplies and pressed their national interest in every international fora. Pakistan, an increasingly water-stressed and energy-deficient country must follow their suit. Diamer-Bhasha Dam may not be panaceas for all the economic woes but it could be a very critical link in Pakistans energy and water requirements. What needs to be done is crystal clear: Pakistan needs to push the World Bank to adhere to its own policies and not be influenced by Indian hectoring or complaints.