It is a crumb of comfort that the International Court of Arbitration has issued a stay order halting the construction of Kishanganga Dam on River Neelum. The court’s decision is in line with the Indus Waters Treaty that categorically prohibits India from blocking or diverting three of the Indus’ western rivers. However, the situation overall is still quite appalling, given several other dams India is building and from which water is already being cut off. Experts keep warning from time to time that Pakistan could turn into a desert soon due to the projects on River Indus that are reported to be as many as 155. One of these is the Kargil Dam, being constructed to be the third largest in the world and large enough to block 45 percent of Pakistan’s share of water.

Though the ICA’s decision would stop work on Kishanganga, at least for now, Islamabad has yet to bring other reservoirs to the court’s notice. The construction activity has kept going partly because of the procrastination by our Indus Water Commission especially under former Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah whose laxness tilted the case in India’s favour. This gave New Delhi enough time to complete some of the projects that otherwise were in violation of the IWT the court might have declared illegal. Since arbitration and good argumentation works, Islamabad should knock the court’s door over every project that is against the treaty.