The government has blamed India once more for not adhering to the Indus Waters Treaty by building the Kishanganga and the under-construction Ratle hydroelectric water power projects in Indian-Held-Kashmir on the Chenab river. It is not that the treaty does not allow for the upper-riparian state to create hydroelectric projects along the shared river; the Indus Waters Treaty only delineates how much water should pass through to the lower-riparian state (Pakistan), and India’s decision to store 7.5 million cubic metres (mcm) water in the form of pondage (the reservoir, in case of shortage of water) for run-of-the-river hydroelectric systems is the bone of contention in this issue.

Pakistan’s stance on this has already been venerated by the decision of the arbitration tribunal in 2013, which ordered India to continue work on the Kishanganga project only if it provided Pakistan with at least 9 mcm. If India goes ahead with its plan of storing 7.5 mcm, as little as ten percent to as much as 33 percent of the water could be lost from Chenab, even though control of the waters of the Western rivers was handed to Pakistan, while India got the Eastern rivers; Ravi, and Sutlej.

This takes the already worsening problem of Pakistan heading towards becoming a water-scarce nation to alarming levels. The per capita water availability for Pakistan has been consistently decreasing since 1947. The exceptional growth of population is partially to blame, but the consistently decreasing trans-boundary flows of water are just as much at fault.

On its part, apart from seeking justice on the international stage, Pakistan also needs to look forward and realise that the only way to fix this, is by making dams of its own; large ones, that can store water for both power generation and domestic consumption, instead of only letting most of it flow by unused every year, or to allow it to cause incalculable destruction in the shape of flash floods. The Diamer-Bhasha Dam is the government’s easy way out, because it does not require fanning any flames in the political set-up. There is no bigger feat possible for Pakistan right now, than to build Kalabagh Dam, and the ruling party, with its proclivity to carry out mega-projects, should take this upon itself as a challenge. Political differences can be set aside for the greater good, and those in opposition that play on the fears of the people of smaller provinces cannot argue logic, or facts. This needs to be done before it’s too late, before the Indian state has access to all rivers while we no longer have any freshwater source left.