THE Punjab government might be feeling that the flexibility it has shown in 'resolving an inter-provincial (Sindh-Punjab) irritant on the distribution of water goes to its credit. The opposition in the Punjab provincial assembly, however, rightly took serious umbrage to the surrender of its water rights to Sindh, which led to its so-called resolution. And the plight of the affected farmers, already under great stress because of the scarce availability of water, was brought out. Rather than putting across a reasoned defence of his governments decision, Senior Minister Raja Riaz Ahmed called MPA Mohsin Khan Leghari, of the opposition, a traitor. This led to uproar, and hot words freely flew across the floor of the House. The oppositions protest resulted in its walk-out, with its leader Chaudhry Zaheer-ud-Din in the lead. The Minister later apologised. Mr Leghari had rejected his rationale of the governments action, when the Minister maintained, wrongly, that the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal had not been closed; only its water flow had been reduced from 5,000 cusecs to 3,000 cusecs. The Punjab government came under fire for what was called the selling of its resources and the reduction of its 2.4 percent of its share in the NFC was cited. The burning issue of water that worries everyone in the country, except the ruling leadership that sanguinely views its theft by India, also came up in the National Assembly where the construction of a large reservoir at Kalabagh was sincerely proposed. But, unfortunately, even the spreading drought-like conditions and unending power shutdowns in the country could not make some of the peoples representatives shed their past emotional baggage about the project. The PPP was split on the issue. Punjab MNA Nadeem Afzal Chans sane proposal to leave the decision about the project in the hands of a committee of non-political experts provoked NWFP MNA Noor Alam to say that members of his province would resign if the committee was constituted. The discussion that followed did underline the fact of Indias increasing acts of blatant water piracy. The authorities should take a cue from the sense of the house, stop waffling and take a firm stand. Time has come when the international community has to be apprised of the seriousness of the matter, highlighting the crucial nature of Kashmir in the context of other disputes with India. There should be no hesitation in approaching the World Bank for New Delhis open violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. India must also be explicitly told that Pakistan would go to any length to secure its rights and it is to the interest of both to settle matters on the basis of justice. However, the dispute with India should not diminish the importance of Kalabagh storing a huge quantity of water for irrigation; and generating around 4,000MW of power to tide over the crippling power shortage.