India’s feverish pursuit of building dams on the rivers allocated to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) has received the attention of the International Crisis Group (ICG) whose objective is to evaluate the consequences of a developing situation for peace in the world and give early warnings of eruption of conflicts unless they are resolved well in time. The ICG rightly foresees the outbreak of war between the two countries if India resorts to stopping water from flowing into Pakistan, which according the IWT is its share, and that creates a dangerous situation for Pakistan. The ICG also draws attention to a report of last year released by the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress wherein it was stated that New Delhi was building three dams on Chenab and Sutlej. By virtue of these dams, the reports said, India would come into a position to divert water way from Pakistan right at the time it badly needed it for the crops, thus putting a question mark on the relevance of the IWT.

The ICG’s foreboding or the US Congress’s apprehensions are not something that should come as a surprise to experts in the field or even the general public in Pakistan who are aware of the fact that the headwaters of these rivers fall in the Indian occupied part of the disputed state of Kashmir and are also familiar with the Indian designs against the existence of Pakistan. Thus, there has been a lot of hue and cry not only among the farming community that is directly affected, but also the people and the media. Only the political circles, the ruling coalition and to a large degree also the opposition, are turning a blind eye to New Delhi persistent manoeuvres to hold Pakistan by its jugular vein when it deems fit to do so.

That is why the resolution of the Kashmir dispute on the basis of a free and fair plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the UN, as stipulated in the UN Security Council resolutions, assumes top priority. All other attempts at normalising Pak-India relations to create a conducive climate to discuss this issue would prove counterproductive. Once relations become normal, India that is at present sidetracking the dispute would be feel little compulsion to address it. Islamabad’s unfortunate steps like the granting of Most Favoured Nation status, which constitutes a big leap into extending concessions to New Delhi at the cost of our economy, would make the Kashmir tangle all the more intractable. Kashmir is not just about water, though it is of existential importance for Pakistan; there is the most dehumanising question of Kashmiris’ bondage entailing untold suffering and loss of life, which has gone on for more than six decades without the international community doing enough to compel New Delhi to settle it in line with its own commitments. India as well as its sympathisers in Pakistan must bear in mind that without Kashmir resolved, neither would there be end to the Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom, nor real understanding between Pakistan and India that could guarantee durable peace in the subcontinent.