After faring poorly in Indian Punjab, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is desperate. Visiting the poll-bound Punjab on Friday, Mr Modi tried to woo the voter base by making ridiculous claims to abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty. He is reported to have said that the farmers of Punjab need not worry about water anymore, as they will route the water from the Indus, which Pakistan does not have ‘any right’ over. While it would be easy to dismiss his rhetoric as the rants of a madman, India has been stepping up efforts to maximise its use of the western rivers of the Indus basin. They have been building huge storage facilities and canals, apparently remaining under the stipulations put forth by the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), as to not violate it. In the midst of a possible water war with a hostile neighbour, what is worse is the internal dissent we display over our water resources. Chief Minister of Sindh, Murad Ali Shah at the Sindh Assembly vowed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would never let Kalabagh Dam get constructed; a blatant disregard for the inevitable natural disaster Pakistan will face.

Pakistan will take India to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and, in all probability, win the case, considering its rights as the lower riparian and importantly the world court’s decision in 1997 on the case concerning Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project on the Danube river between Hungary and Slovakia, which clearly determines the importance of respecting the existing international water agreements. Should India still choose to dig its own grave and reject the treaty, Pakistan’s claim to the rivers that were given to India would be revived. The World Bank takes pride in the success of this treaty, affirming itself as a credible third-party negotiator and any form of India’s open withdrawal from the treaty will automatically draw the World Bank into the dispute and in support of Pakistan. To pull out of an international treaty unilaterally would not go down well for India. The Indus Waters Treaty has stood the test of time for past 56 years, including two bloody wars.

At home, in the face of an uncertain future where Pakistan is grappling with water insecurity, the PPP remains adamant in staying on the wrong side of history, not for the benefit of the people, but for its own. It has lost a lot of its mandate over the years, and this attempt at remaining controversial is an attempt to remain politically relevant.

Any project that ensures that our water resources will be stored and utilised in a sustainable manner has to be encouraged. This is not an issue that should be about the survival of a political party, but the survival of Pakistan.