Sources in the Ministry of Water and Power have highlighted an unwillingness on the part of the government to raise the issue of two controversial hydel projects being built by India in Occupied Kashmir, one that is certainly giving them an undue advantage. The Pathankot attack and the fragile relations between the state are naturally making it hard for the demands to be put on the table, but they must, and with skillful diplomacy.

The Indus Water Commission of Pakistan had termed Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project and Ratle Hydroelectric Project as ‘controversial and a gross violation of Indus Water Treaty signed between the two countries’. The government did take a stand earlier, expressing its resolve to place the matter before the World Bank. However, this issue has been pending since August 2015, despite the fact that a case regarding technical objections by Pakistan on both the projects has already been completed.

We have already lost the case regarding Baglihar Dam because of failure to raise objection on the design in time. These new projects are blatantly designed to give Pakistan nothing but trouble and we are doing nothing to let India or the international community know how lopsided they are. Pakistan in a letter to India in 2014 had proposed bilateral talks to resolve the dispute. But we took no stand after that.

Officials are speculating that the government had put the matter on the back burner so that the atmosphere for a composite dialogue with India should not be tensed. If we wait for an opportune time to talk about this, perhaps there will be none. Foreign secretary level talks between the two countries are scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Jan 16. However, an attack on the Pathankot base has created an uncertain situation and it is difficult to say whether the talks will be held on schedule. The government needs to be proactive and clear regarding our stance towards what we will compromise with India on, and what we will not. Surprise tours by Modi mean nothing if both him and Nawaz cannot move beyond superficial tokens of friendship and onto pressing issues between both countries.

Our position is additionally weakened by our lack of resolve to make construct our own dams (like Kalabagh) and the lack of arrangement to conserve water that results in flooding disasters. As the upper riparian region, it is not India’s responsibility to worry about Pakistans water supply- a position that has support in international laws. If we cant make arrangements for ourselves, why should a hostile state be expected to?