Pakistan has decided to go for international arbitration against construction of five hydropower projects on Chenab and Jhelum rivers in occupied Kashmir.

While the US only sees India as a huge market to trade with as well as a station to keep a check on the Chinese, true issues have always been ignored. Even while the US had been using Pakistan through the Afghan War and the War against terror, never once did it try to resolve our problems with India over Kashmir and especially the problem of water. This is the crux of why India is so vehement on containing and digesting Kashmir. We need the water, and thus Kashmir really is our jugular vein, and India would like to cut it before anyone even notices. India will not back away from this, these dams have been in the works for years.

Pakistan has also been caught with its pants down. While India has built 63 large dams in the past 30 years how many have we built? Pakistan has only built two large dams along the Indus passing through a stretch of over 2,000 kilometres on its territory. Under international law, India has a positive obligation not to inflict unreasonable harm on the lower riparian state and this obligation does restrict their sovereignty over its water. However, while the upper riparian has to act as a trustee for the lower riparian, its failure to do so does not absolve the lower riparian from its obligation to manage water flowing through its territories so as to ensure reasonable utilisation of shared water. The management of water through means such as storage facilities and dams remains the equal responsibility of a lower riparian state like Pakistan. We have a good chance of losing any case that is handed over to international arbitration.

International law binds us to better manage our territorial water resources and secure the right of water to the people. Failure to meet our obligations under this covenant can have consequences not just for our water but our standing with of its own in the context of recently granted GSP Plus status by the European Union which allows better concessions and tariffs in international deals. This is a potential social and economic catastrophe, and we have done little to prevent it.