Pakistan wants to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration if India continues with its stance of constructing the Kishanganga Dam on River Jhelum and four other dams on the Chenab in violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). This come after India has taken an aggressive stance against Pakistan, leading to the freezing over of peace talks on Kashmir. It seems that India won’t stand down, it’s looking at itself as the regional hegemon and will take what it needs and do what it wants and talks have failed.

Even if the issue goes to the ICJ, there is no telling what will happen. India has more resources and in an international court, it will be more organized. There is very little attention paid to the water issue, especially legal expertise. There are other concerns as well; that the government might not allow a reference to ICJ over trade concerns. Additionally, the IWT is 50 years old and this might open a Pandora’s box. India may well demand a revision of the dated treaty and we may further lose our water privileges. Pakistan has raised objections to any dam construction in the past and international arbitrators have quashed them all. Under international law, the obligation to not inflict harm on Pakistan restricts the sovereignty of India. Precedent might not be with us. And as the expression goes, “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

India has been stealing Pakistani waters for a long time. But we have also been wasting our water resources with almost criminal negligence and abandon. We don’t have competent people who can take necessary action; instead we have politicised the matter of the dams, to the benefit of no party. Is this India striking Pakistan where it hurts most? India will look after its people and make dams, and it has been making dozens to increase power generation capability. Pakistan will keep complaining, and lose cases at the ICJ, while load shedding and water shortage become the norm. And then, when all is said and done, will we have to bend and buy electricity from India (from water that was ours to begin with)?