A Reuters report highlights the thirst for water that countries across the world are experiencing and that is driving them to appropriate the waters of rivers they share with other nations, causing tensions that appear destined to escalate into full-scale wars. On the hard fact of the growing need of clean water, of which the world, unfortunately, has a limited stock, by a population that is not only increasing fast, but also getting accustomed to making greater use of it for the purpose of modern living. The population’s increased requirement of food and manufactured goods is also taxing the available resource of water.

In this bird’s-eye view of the simmering conflicts around the globe because of scarcity of water by the news agency’s correspondent, South Asia figures prominently where India is building dam after dam on the upper reaches of illegally occupied Kashmir, laying the ground for a potential clash between the two nuclear-armed states. It was precisely for averting such a situation that the Quaid-i-Azam had the vision to call Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan. There can be no two opinions that in the face of the limited availability of water, securing its sources is of imperative need. We should be not only taking a firm stand against the usurpation of our right, but also harnessing the resources available to us, rather than let it go waste into the sea that affords New Delhi the argument that Pakistan is cavalierly wasting the precious resource. The tragedy is that against this backdrop of a looming danger to survival posed by India’s feverish attempts to divert waters that by canons of justice should belong to Pakistan, our ruling leadership is taking the appropriation of this elixir of life lightly. What Reuters fails to mention is that New Delhi is appropriating our share of water in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty it had signed with Islamabad on intercession of the World Bank.

No doubt, South Asia is a region that contains one-fifth of the world’s population and is rising by leaps and bounds, outstripping population rates in other parts of the globe. And its needs continue to mount. But if we have to stave off our fertile land from turning into a vast desert, we have to defend our right. There should be no letup in raising our voice in appropriate international forums and our chancelleries around the world. At the same time, the normalization process with India should be conditioned on the settlement of the Kashmir dispute in line with the aspirations of the people, as outlined in UN Security Council resolutions. Only then could the idea of a relationship of equality with India begin to take shape.