Suleman Najib Khan

This article includes reference to million acre-feet (MAF) and cubic kilometres (km3). Both of them are main units. The units of flow are cusecs (cubic feet/second) and cumecs in the metric system. MAF is simply one million acres covered by one foot of water. Roughly speaking, if you multiply by 1.2, the figure is converted to cubic kilometres. Even one cubic meter of water is no small measure. It is a thousand litters and weighs a ton. Incidentally, a hectare (ha) of land area is 2.5 acres. There are 10,000 square metres (sq.m) in a hectare. This means 100 hectares in a square kilometre ( So, a continuous flow of 1381c/s for one full year conveys 1 MAF or about 1.2 cubic kilometres.

Water scarcity and hydrologic scenario:

A 65-year history of water aggression by India, the upper riparian, is genocide in slow motion. Pakistan’s surface flows in the Indus Basin System average I45 MAF annually. However, the Western nallahs/streams that flow basically during the monsoons and can average 5 to 10 MAF, depending on the wet or dry cycles, is not included. It seems that the water mined from underground aquifers, which is around 40 MAF annually, is not really a renewable resource. There is negligible rainwater harvesting in the northern zones of Pakistan. But the south, including Balochistan, is semi-arid or a desert.

In comparison, the Indian federation although very secretive about its water data is, reportedly, having annual surface flows of 750 MAF in its main rivers. The figures for aquifer mining are not available. Since most of the northern, central, eastern and southern India is blessed with extensive precipitation, they have developed sophisticated rain harvesting methods; practiced in the entire northern rim highland states, as well as south India, where they refer to it as “tank irrigation”. Thus, it is a fallacy that Pakistan per capita water availability is close to the Indian average.

According to my estimation, this may have been close to the truth in 1947, but the situation has deteriorated drastically for Pakistan. It is now close to one-third of the Indian average. This average is dramatically reduced for the end user when we consider the net availability from the reservoirs. Pakistan’s reservoirs have 8 percent storage capacity of their surface flows, while India is close to achieving 40 percent of its declared surface flows. My personal experience at the Closed door Conference on Kashmir Waters in New Delhi during July 2010 confirmed the views of Pakistani elders, including Engr B.A. Malik, Engr Chaudhry Mazhar Ali and late Syed Salar Kirmani. Pakistan has lost or given away or simply been cheated of its water rights every time there has been a face-off with the Indians. Perhaps, the Indians worship a water god, while we have been historically callous. The Indians want an IWT— 2, as they have the network to support them. But we need to finally wake up!

India’s water aggression:

Surely, the Indians influenced a section of our bureaucracy through their clearly identified agents. This ongoing tragedy cannot be reversed without taking a gigantic step.

Firstly, the realisation that we as a nation have been the victim of a massive conspiracy with respect to our hydro endowment and, in tandem, the attrition of our irrigated agricultural capability. The military occupation of Kashmir was the start of the Indian Water Aggression (IWA) strategy in connivance and with full support of the imperial power. In brief, the IWA strategy was not fully comprehended by our intelligentsia, and the issue was and still remains clouded by religious overtones. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s warning was not understood just as the nation ignored his caution note on the activities of the fifth column.

Secondly, is the periodic stage-wise progress of the IWA strategy! The period 1946-1960 was consolidation of the military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the implementation of the inhuman and unprecedented policy of taking the entire flow of the three Punjab rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej). The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) signed on September 19, 1960, was a terrible tragedy for West Punjab and the nation in general. Of the 33 MAF average annual flows, the historic share of West Punjab was 27 MAF that was reduced to about 26 MAF at the time of the treaty. Effectively, Pakistan had lost close to 20 percent of its surface flows till eternity. Mr G. Mueenuddin, Pakistan’s head of the lndus Waters Delegation, was no match for India’s hydro expert Mr N.D. Gauhati. A reading of Engr B.A. Malik’s Indus Waters Treaty in Retrospect (IWTR) published in 2005 is an accurate account of the genesis of this cruel treaty. Then the Indians knew and now have proved that Pakistan is in no position to violate the IWT 1960.

As the lower riparian, Pakistan was expected to “beg for water” using the exact statement of the Indian establishment when they shut off the Lahore Canal using the Madhopur Headworks on the Ravi and the Depalpur Canal using the Ferozepur Headworks on the Sutlej. There is no logical phenomenon whereby Pakistan can transgress and cheat under the IWT 1960. The period from 1960 to 1971 was spent in the Indian obsession to trash “the Two Nation Theory” and their conspiratorial role became clear when their military forces joined the civilian uprising in former East Pakistan. The Indians have orchestrated the anti-KBD movement since then, culminating in several so-called democratic interventions by their agents and friends. Professor John Briscoe’s thesis, War or Peace on the Indus, based on his book, entitled Pakistan’s Water Economy Running Dry, confirms all the apprehensions of David E. Lilienthal’s report of August 1951 prepared on the instructions of President Harry S. Truman. Here are some extracts:

“Why the flow of the Punjab’s lifeblood was so carelessly handled in the partition no one seems to know. Pakistan includes some of the most productive food-growing lands in the world in western Punjab (the Kipling country) and the Sind. But without ‘water for irrigation’ this would be a desert. 20,000,000 acres would dry up in a week, tens of millions would starve. No army, with bombs and shellfire, could devastate a land as thoroughly as Pakistan could be devastated by the simple expedient of India’s permanently shutting off the sources of water that keep the fields and the people of Pakistan alive.”

“The partition gave the major part of the irrigated lands of the Punjab and Sind to Pakistan; but the headwaters of some of the largest irrigation canals that feed Pakistan were left with India or Kashmir. All the rivers upon which Pakistan depends for life originate in India or Kashmir. Two thirds of the entire water supply originates in Kashmir where the snow-fed Indus rises.”

Strategising water issues and a possible response:

The tools at Pakistan’s disposal are woefully inadequate. Every encounter on the hydro front has ended in defeat. Yes, there were technical retreats by the upper riparian, but in good time they succeeded to either steal our endowment or block our progress on the irrigation assets. I calculate they have inflicted an economic loss of over a trillion USD equivalent by blocking Pakistan’s mega dams and its tributaries after 1974. Today the KBD project, acknowledged by world experts as the best hydro project site in Asia and, probably, in the world, stands blocked, while the Pak nation is told that “consensus” is required. The upstream Diamer Basha Dam (DBD) is redesigned as a virtual alternate to KBD and in the process becomes an extremely dangerous and unsafe structure. The belligerents expect that this would be a double blow to Pakistan’s economy and, in fact, make its existence highly precarious.

A light RCC dam structure with an unprecedented 271 meters height storing water behind a dam crest level of 1,160 meters asl. Can anyone imagine the destructive force of over 10 cubic kilometres of water hurtling down from nearly 3,900 ft altitude? Late Dr Butt has described this doomsday scenario in his 2004 letters to General Musharraf. Is anyone listening? The October 8, 2005, earthquake in the northern areas and the May 12, 2008, reservoir-induced earthquake in Sichuan cannot be forgotten. Has anyone ever opposed or even identified the Machiavellian tactics employed by the Indians in creating the historical nexus between the World Bank’s Kashmir policy and our northern areas?

The Indian ICID menace and the consortium of traitors:

There is no answer to the Indian ICID and here lies the administrative fault line in Pakistan. Punjab since a few years has been excluded from the Indus Waters Treaty issues, although it is the most affected one by Indian transgressions. IRSA may not be controlled by one province. Both TP and CJ link canals are vital for South Punjab share. Above all, an organisation has to be created overnight to understand, analyse and respond to the Indian transgressions in IHK. Internally, this organisation must be able to educate the people of Pakistan about the hydro truths. The deliberate and treacherous misinterpretations of IWT 1960 cannot be allowed. The Indians desire for an IWT-2 is not acceptable. An overdue fight back must start since the dangers to Pakistan’s existence are clearly appreciated. Here are the recent Indian moves and the deadly signals from Pakistan’s consortium of traitors.

i    India presses ahead with its 129 HPP and reservoirs projects in IHK. At least 42 on the three western rivers and their tributaries are already in operation. Another 14 are under construction and 115 in advanced stages of planning and design.

i    Why does India build dams when low-level rivers and tunnels could be more suitable for the run-of-the-river (ROR) power stations? The sediment problem would also be solved.

i    India accelerates its activities in IHK. The shifting of the spillway allowed the Indian manipulative storage at Baghliar I to be 164,000AF, instead 60,000AF that is a gross violation of Annexure C.

i    IRSA’s working is completely disturbed and now controlled by Mr Kamal Majidullah. Earlier General Musharraf had allowed that the 5th  member will also be from Sindh. Later, he ordered that the IRSA Chairman will always be from Sindh.

i    Punjab is now excluded from all treaty matters. Mr Majidullah, a lawyer and friend of the President, is leading this campaign against Punjab.

i    Today, Punjab is told that the Indus River is only for Sindh. They do not permit operation of the CJ and TP link canals during the critical months from April to June (Kharif period), and also between October to March. When a Balochistan member supported Punjab on (February 13, 2010) his services were terminated. Ex-Senator Marvi Memon, daughter of Nisar Memon, also opposed the CJ operation (tail-end) at the outfall into Jhelum during her Senate Committee tenure.

i    The Indus Commissioner has to tour the entire Indus Basin every five years.

i    The consortium of traitors disregards the violation of Annexure C para (9), Annexure D para 15 (iii) and Annexure E para (10). More so, India has made a joke of Article III. However, no one complains about the Hudiara drain and other nallahs under Article IV.

n    The writer is a freelance columnist.