THE initial reaction of the actual users of water, the farmers, to the closure of the Chashma-Jhelum link canal, has been unfavourable, as has been shown by the reaction of various farmers organisations. They have been sturdily insistent that the closure decision, which came on Tuesday after a meeting of the Sindh and Punjab Chief Ministers, chaired by the Prime Minister, should not affect water supplies to southern Punjab. The Punjab CM gave in to the combined pressure of his Sindh counterpart, and the PM, but the right of Punjab farmers, the countrys most productive, to adequate water for their cotton crop, must not be denied. The C-J canal had been opened after the then acting IRSA Chairman had ordered the opening. The opponents of the Kalabagh Dam project bring in this canal, which is used to move water from the Indus to South Punjab, as evidence that the Induss water will be 'stolen by Punjab. That is not a debate which seems appropriate now, with the cotton crop threatened, though it is worth pointing out that the world powers have noted that Pakistan is able to weather the crises it suffers through its agricultural production, and its ability to feed itself. The water shortage does not only threaten agricultural production, but even the drinking water of southern Punjab. Instead of using all resources, certain vested interests are preferring to share shortages, made worse by the refusal of some to allow autonomy to others over their own resources. Not only has Sindh obtained a veto over national projects like Kalabagh Dam, but also over how Punjab uses its existing water resources. This cannot be allowed, and the Punjab government, in the interest of maintaining inter-provincial harmony, must not be so ready to sacrifice the interests of the province, especially when they are related to as crucial an issue as irrigation water. The province depends on agriculture for its survival, and thus anything harming production is going to be viewed adversely.