Water dispute between India and Pakistan:
Water is critical for life but unfortunately Pakistan is in the grip of its
scarcity. Since its independence, Pakistan is facing acute water shortage. The
unjustifiable partition of Punjab in 1947 gave birth to the conflicts between two
neighboring countries i.e. Pakistan and India.
The roots of water dispute can be traced to the creation of Pakistan and India
in 1947 when India was partitioned. Moreover, India tightened its grip on water
source by occupying part of Kashmir, wherefrom six rivers that irrigate crops in
Pakistan’s heartland of Punjab province and elsewhere.
The Indus Waters Treaty, a water-sharing treaty between India and Pakistan,
brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development), was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960. Indian Prime
Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Mohammad Ayub Khan had
signed the treaty as a result of Pakistani fear that since the source of the rivers
comprising Indus basin was in India, it could potentially create droughts and
famines in Pakistan.
The Indus rivers system comprises three western rivers including the Indus,
the Jhelum and Chenab and three eastern rivers including the Sutlej, the Beas and
the Ravi. With minor exceptions, the treaty gives India exclusive right over use of
all of the waters of the eastern rivers and their tributaries before the point where the
rivers enter Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan has exclusive right over use of the
western rivers. Pakistan also received one-time financial compensation for the loss
of water from the eastern rivers.
In recent years, the construction of new dams by India on the rivers passing
through occupied Kashmir the water shortage has become a crucial issue for
Pakistan. The agriculture sector of Pakistan is faced with drought-like conditions
and being agro-based, the economy of Pakistan is near to collapse.
Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan was deprived of
the right on three major rivers. To compensate the loss of its tributaries, Pakistan
built dams on Indus and Jhelum rivers but with the population growth the available
water failed to meet the increasing demand and resultantly water shortage
On the other hand, India did not want to compromise with Pakistan and also
violated the terms and conditions of the Indus Basin Waters Treaty. It is stated in
the treaty that before starting any project regarding water both the countries would
give technical details to each other. Because of the stubbornness of India, the
diplomatic relations between the two countries always remained strained.
India denies having intention to cut off water flow to Pakistan and maintains that it
has complied with the treaty. New Delhi, however, violated the Indus Waters
Treaty and started construction of Wullar barrage on River Jhelum. The size of
Wullar freshwater lake in Bandipura district of occupied Jammu and Kashmir
varies from 30 to 260 square kilometers. Pakistan suffered badly because of the
construction of this barrage because it highly depended on this river for power
generation as well as irrigation. But Pakistan has failed to properly address the
problem because of domestic political problems.
The Pakistan-India relations have been hostile since the independence of the
two countries from the British colonial rule. The dispute between two South Asian
rivals on Kashmir and water issue played major role in these hostile relations.
Although Pakistan has always been desirous of settlement of the two issues
with India through negotiations, the latter never showed seriousness to settle the
contentious issues with the former and always avoided decisive talks on one
pretext or the other.
The shortage of water in Pakistan is growing with the passage of each day
because of the adverse Indian moves as well as the climate change. As the water
shortage is fast becoming a serious threat to Pakistani economy and may in turn
translate into a security threat for the country, some bold steps are needed by the
Pakistan government to address this vital issue before it emerges as a threat to the
very security of the country.
India has almost completed many dams and engineering projects to
divert the course of rivers which are the legitimate right of Pakistan; like the dam
under construction on River Chenab just 70 Km away from Pakistan borders and
the world community did nothing about it. Pakistan is a peaceful and responsible
country. Pakistan has adopted a policy of restraint from armed conflict and is
looking to the world community to prevail upon India for settlement of the disputes
of Jammu & Kashmir, stealth of waters of Pakistan by India and other disputes.
India refuses to negotiate on self generated pretexts. The policy of restraint by the
Government of Pakistan is read by India as weakness.
The people of Pakistan are growing impatient by every passing day. They
are demanding from the government to blast off those dams with missiles that are
built by India to steal the waters that are meant for Pakistan, according to Indus
Waters Treaty 1960. Agriculture in Pakistan has already suffered a great deal and
as of now Pakistan is facing a draught like situation due to denial of waters by
India. People of Pakistan only think that it is better to die as result of a nuclear war
then die of hunger. Let the world community know that there exists an inevitable
cause for a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Water disputes and liberation
of the people of Jammu & Kashmir are the cause. India’s denial for a peaceful
solution of disputes with Pakistan has further fueled the situation to become worst.
Unless the basic cause is removed, the nuclear war in South Asia can not be ruled
out. Many issues arose after the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, including
one over the sharing of the Indus River system. In 1960, both countries agreed on
the Indus Water Treaty, which effectively divided up the water in the region.
Although the IWT has remained intact, recent developments have brought this
water dispute back into the spotlight. Below, Zain ul-Arifeen, a science teacher in
Mansehra, [a city in Pakistan's NWFP], discusses the history and current status of
the Indus Water Treaty, and why it’s significant:
The total area of the Indus Basin, the area draining the, Himalayan water into the
Arabian Sea, is about 365,000 square miles (934,000 sq.km), larger than the
Pakistan’s total area of 310,000 square miles (794,000 sq. km). Pakistan covers
the major part of the Indus Basin (about 217,000 squares miles out of 365,000
square miles). The Indus River system consists mainly of the Indus River and its
major eastern tributaries, the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej Rivers. A
number of relatively small rivers join the Indus on its west side. The largest is
Kabul with its main tributary, the Swat River.
The Indus and its tributaries easily make up the most important river system
in the world. The basin was converted into an extensively cultivated area during
the British colonial period, with millions of acres irrigated by large canals. At the
time of Pakistan and India’s Partition in 1947, boundaries were drawn without first
considering the realities of the region. The parts of the Punjab to the west of this
boundary become a part of Pakistan, while the east was incorporated into India.
The immediate effect of this partition was that the Indus Basin became divided and
conflicts subsequently arose between the two countries over the sharing of water
In 1948, after India obtained control of the headwaters and halted the water
flow into Pakistan, the dispute drew international attention. In 1960, after years of
negotiations, the World Bank brokered the Indus Water Treaty, [IWT] which
regulated the use of the Indus Basin Rivers. The agreement was signed on
September 19, 1960 by Pakistan’s President Mohammad Ayub Khan, Indian
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the World Bank’s Mr. W. A.B Iliff.
The IWT consists of three parts: The preamble, twelve articles and annexure A
to H. The principal subjects covered in the treaty’s annexure are: the exchange of
notes between the governments of India and Pakistan, India’s agricultural use of
certain tributaries of the Ravi, India’s agricultural use of the upper reaches of the
western rivers, India’s generation of hydroelectric power and the storage of water
from the western rivers, a procedure to solve disputes and differences through a
commission, a neutral court of arbitration, and allocation to Pakistan of some
waters from the eastern rivers during the period of transition.
The Treaty gave India exclusive use of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers.
Pakistan was given access to the western rivers – the Indus, Jehlum and Chenab.
Under the agreement, India has to allow these rivers to flow to Pakistan without
any hindrance or interference, except as specifically allowed by the Treaty. This
includes the use of water for domestic and other non-consumptive purposes, as
well as the generation of hydroelectric power. However, the agreement precludes
the building of any storage by India on the rivers allocated to Pakistan. For
example, if India wanted to generate hydroelectric power it could only build run-
of-the-river hydroelectric projects (unlike a dam or a reservoir), which does not
create any storage [in the Treaty, Paragraph 2(c) (d) of Aricle III allows and
Annexure C and D explains that how India can use the water of western rivers].
The Treaty established a Permanent Indus Commission, led by two high-
ranking engineers, one from either country. The commission’s job is to monitor
that neither country violates the treaty, and smooth out any differences that may
arise. It can refer to either the World Bank [in the case of the Baghliar Dam
dispute] or the Court of Arbitration for help in settling a conflict.
At the time the IWT was signed, Pakistani President Ayub Khan stated:
The sources of the rivers are in India…and India had made arrangements to
divert the waters…every factor was against us, the only sensible thing to do was to
try and get a settlement; though it might be the second best, but if we did not we
stood to lose everything.
Although the Indus Water Treaty has survived hostilities between India and
Pakistan over the years, recent developments threaten to undermine this agreement.
On October 10, 2008, India inaugurated the controversial Baglihar hydro-electric
dam project in Indian-administered Kashmir. Although India says the dam would
be crucial for meeting the country’s power needs, it is located on the Chenab River
[one of the western rivers given to Pakistan in the IWT], and is a clear violation of
the 1960 agreement.
Islamabad has claimed the dam would reduce the flow of water to Pakistan,
depriving its agricultural regions of irrigation. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari
recently told the Associated Press of Pakistan, “Pakistan would be paying a very
high price for India’s move to block Pakistan’s water supply from the Chenab
river,” adding that any violation of the Indus Water Treaty “would damage the
bilateral ties the two countries had built over the years.” The question over the
future of the IWT is a very serious issue and is only marginally addressed in the
media. The sharing of the Indus River system is significant for Indian-Pakistani
relations and disputes over this issue could further complicate tensions between the
Concern is growing in Pakistan that India is pursuing policies in an attempt
to strangulate Pakistan by exercising control over the water flow of Pakistan's
rivers. The concern is most related to Pakistan agricultural sector, which would be
greatly affected by the building of dams and by the external control of the waters
of several rivers that flow into Pakistan. The issue has a layered complexity, as
three of the rivers flow into Pakistan through the Indian portion of Jammu &
Kashmir, the territory over which the two countries have waged multiple wars.
Pakistani columnists, religious leaders, and policymakers are increasingly
articulating their concern over the water dispute in terms of a traditional rivalry
against India and in terms of anti-Israel sentiment that has been fostered by the
country's establishment over the years. In one such recent case, Ayaz Amir, a
renowned Pakistani columnist, warned: "Insisting on our water rights with regard
to India must be one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy. The disputes of the
future will be about water." Hamid Gul, former chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), charged: "India has stopped our water." Pakistan's Indus Basin
Water Council (IBWC), a pressure group that appears deceivingly authoritative as
an organization whose central purpose is to address Pakistani water concerns,
currently maintains near hegemony over the pubic debate of the issue. IBWC
Chairman Zahoorul Hassan Dahir claimed that "India, working in conjunction with
the Jewish lobby" is using most of the river waters, causing a shortage of food,
water and electricity in Pakistan.
The Pakistani concern involves six rivers that flow into Pakistan through northern
India, including the disputed state of Jammu & Kashmir and the state of Punjab,
both of which have been ideologically divided between India and Pakistan since
1947. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, disagreements began to arise over
sharing of river waters, leading to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, an attempt at a
resolution brokered by the World Bank. Though the treaty is perhaps the most
enduring pact between the two nuclear powers, it is coming under increasing
Understanding the Indus River System:
The Indus Water Treaty sets out the legal framework for the sharing of the waters
of six rivers: the Indus River and its five tributaries. All six rivers “Indus, Chenab,
Jhelum, Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi “flow through northern India into Pakistan. Under
the pact, the waters of three rivers “the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum, which
pass through Jammu & Kashmir “ are to be used by Pakistan, while India has
rights to the waters of the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi before these three enter
Pakistani territory. The Chenab is the key tributary, as it carries the waters of the
rest four rivers into the Indus.
The complicated origins of the Indus river system plays a key role in the water
debates, as the rivers originate in and pass through a number of countries.
According to the Indus Water Treaty,
The following three rivers are for use by Pakistan:
* The Indus River: originates in Chinese-controlled Tibet and flows through
Jammu & Kashmir.
* The Chenab: originates in India Himachal Pradesh state, travels through Jammu
* The Jhelum: rises in Jammu & Kashmir and flows into Pakistan, finally joining
The Treaty affords India use of the following three rivers:
* The Sutlej: originates in Tibet, flows through Himachal Pradesh and Punjab
before joining the Chenab.
* The Beas and the Ravi: originate in Himachal Pradesh state and flow into
Pakistan, emptying into the Chenab.
Taking into account the flow of the rivers, the importance of the Chenab and the
Indus becomes clear. The Chenab combines the waters of four rivers, the Jhelum,
the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi, to form a single water system which then joins
the Indus in Pakistan. The Indus River is considered to be the lifeline of Pakistani
economy and livestock.
Pakistani Concern and Baglihar Dam:
Pakistani concern regarding the water from the rivers started in the 1990s after
India began constructing a hydroelectric power project on the Chenab River in the
Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir. Since the Chenab is the key tributary of the
Indus, Pakistani policymakers, religious and political parties, and political
commentators feared that India could exert control over the waters. Such control
could be used to injure the Pakistani economy and livestock, or could be used to
cause floods in Pakistan by the release of water during times of war. Discussions of
Pakistan's concerns are most often centralized around the Baglihar dam, though it
is only one of the several water projects being developed by India in its part of
Jammu & Kashmir.
The first phase of the Baglihar dam, a 450-MW hydroelectric power project
initiated in the 1990s, was completed on October 10, 2008. Inaugurating the
project, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted: "It is a matter of
satisfaction that the reconstruction program... [entailing] 67 projects is well under
way with 19 projects completed, one of which is the Baglihar project that I
inaugurated today." The fact that the Baglihar dam is one of 67 development
projects underway in Jammu & Kashmir raises further concerns among many
Pakistanis who believe that Kashmir, having a Muslim majority, rightfully belongs
to the Islamic state of Pakistan. The extensive building of infrastructure by India is
therefore a cause of further Pakistani displeasure and contention.
The discussion of water easily ignites popular passion because Pakistan is
increasingly confronted by an impending water crisis. In early 2009, it was
estimated that Pakistan is on the brink of a water disaster, as the availability of
water in Pakistan has been declining over the past few decades, from 5,000 cubic
meters per capita 60 years ago to 1,200 cubic meters per capita in 2009. By 2020,
the availability of water is estimated to fall to about 800 cubic meters per capita.
M. Yusuf Sarwar, a member of the Indus Basin Water Council, has warned that the
lessening flow of water in rivers and shortage of water generally could cause
Pakistan to be declared a disaster-affected nation by 2013. Dr. Muhammad Yar
Khawar, a scientist at the University of Sindh, released research last year based on
sample surveys that warns that less than 20 percent of below-surface water in the
Sindh province, previously thought to be a viable water source, is acceptable for
Amidst this shortage of water, Pakistan is also confronted with a number of
internal factors that amount to further strain. One columnist warned that with
Pakistan's population set to jump to 250 million in just a few years' time, a shortage
of water, along with that of oil, sugar, and wheat, will become a major problem.
Pakistan is also estimated to be losing 13 million cusecs [approximately 368,119
cubic meters/second] of water every year from its rivers into the sea, as it does not
have enough reservoirs or dams to store water. Further tensions arise from
allegations of inequitable distribution of water between various Pakistani
provinces. The Indus River System Authority (IRSA), which allocates water to
provinces, averted a major political controversy between provinces in June 2009
by declaring that there would be not cut in their water supply.
While a number of Pakistan's internal behaviors are responsible for the depleting
water table, the construction of Baglihar dam by India has multiplied Pakistani
concern. Pakistani writers warn that the dam will deprive Pakistan of 321,000 acre
feet of water during agricultural season, greatly affecting wheat production in the
Punjab province and leading to crop failures. There are some warnings that the
dam will adversely affect 13 million acres of irrigated land around the Chenab and
Ravi rivers, forcing Pakistani farmers to change crops, and in the face of
starvation, deepening Pakistan dependence on food imports and burdening the
country's national exchequer. In an editorial published in June 2009, Pakistan's
mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang said India "is nursing an
impious dream of turning the entirety of Pakistan into a desert."
Under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, India is not permitted to build dams for the
purpose of water storage on the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum rivers, but it is allowed
to make limited use of their waters, including developing run-of-the-river
hydroelectric power projects. India is required to provide Pakistan with the
technical details of any water project it wants to develop on these rivers before
building begins. Pakistan has formally raised objections on the technical
specifications of the Baglihar dam, including design, size, gated spillways, and
water capacity. Over the past decade, India and Pakistan held a series of talks on
the issue of the Baglihar dam but could not resolve the matter within the
framework of the 1960 treaty.
In 2003, Pakistan formally served a final notice to the Indian government, urging
it to resolve the Baglihar issue by December 31, 2003, a process that failed to yield
results. In 2005, Pakistan approached the World Bank for mediation. The World
Bank noted that it was "not a guarantor of the treaty," but had the authority to
appoint a neutral expert. In 2007, the appointed neutral expert Professor Raymond
Lafitte of Switzerland delivered a verdict rejecting most of the Pakistani
objections. However, Professor Lafitte did require India to make some minor
changes, including reducing the dam's height by 1.5m. Significantly, Professor
Lafitte's judgment classified Pakistani objections as "differences" and not a serious
"dispute," which could have paved the way for the issue to be taken to a Court of
Arbitration as envisaged in the treaty.
To this day, Pakistan remains dissatisfied over the Lafitte verdict. Though India
has facilitated visits by Pakistani officials to the dam site and Indian delegations
have visited Pakistan to examine Pakistani claims of a water shortage in the
Chenab River, the countries remain at an impasse. Bilateral talks between the two
countries are now increasingly focused on water disputes. Pakistan has accused
India several times of completely stopping Pakistan's water from the Chenab River.
In March 2008, Hafiz Zahoorul Hassan Dahir, the IBWC chairman, charged that
India "completely shut down the Chenab River from the 1st to the 26th of January
2008, with not even a drop of water moving." India was also accused of curtailing
the water supply from the Chenab River during September-October, 2008. Due to a
precedent set in the 1978 case of the Salal dam construction by India in Jammu &
Kashmir, Pakistan is requesting to be paid a compensation for any water shortfall.
In June 2009, the Pakistani government declared that India rejected its demand for
monetary compensation for the loss of water from the Chenab River. Pakistan
alleged that the waters of the Chenab had been stopped by India during August
2008; however India refuted these claims, citing unreliable Pakistani statistics
regarding water stoppage and loss. In an editorial, the Urdu-language Pakistani
newspaper Roznama Express noted: "If India continues to build dams on our rivers
and stop our water, then the day is not far when our lands will become barren and
this nation, that has a spectacular history of agricultural production, will be forced
to import food." The daily observed that during a meeting with President Asif
Zardari, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the President that he was
looking into the matter, but no action was taken. In October 2008, President
Zardari took "serious notice" of the issue and warned of "damage to bilateral
relations" if Pakistani concerns were not addressed. A few days before President
Zardari statement, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Baglihar dam
project, stating that "Pakistan's concerns about the project had been addressed."
On June 6, 2009, two years after the Lafitte verdict, Pakistani Foreign Minister
Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused India of violating the Indus Water Treaty.
Qureshi further warned that any failure to resolve the water disputes "could lead to
conflict in the region." A sentiment is now emerging in Pakistan that the 1960
Indus Water Treaty has proven to function to the sole advantage of India. Ayub
Mayo, the president of the farmers' lobby group Pakistan Muttahida Kisan Mahaz,
declared that the 1960 pact is simply "a conspiracy to deprive Pakistan of its due
share of water." While the talks between the two nations regarding water-related
issues are continuing into the second half of 2009, public debate in Pakistan on the
subject continues to be vigorous and sentimental, raising complicated concerns of
national security, traditional rivalry with India, as well as historical anti-Semitism.
The Perceived Threat:
During the past two years, the debate in Pakistan about the Indian water projects in
Jammu & Kashmir has gained a bitter momentum, as Pakistani leaders have begun
to describe India as their eternal enemy and accuse India of trying to suffocate the
Pakistani economy. Speeches by the leaders often carry an element of anti-
Semitism, blaming India for acting under an international conspiracy led by Israel,
the U.S. and India against the Islamic state of Pakistan.
In early 2008, an editorial in the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Ausaf
accused India of planning a "Water Bomb" strategy to economically strangulate
Pakistan. The article quoted the officials of the IBWC pressure group as saying
that India wants to achieve through a "water bomb" what it could not achieve
through the three wars waged over the past six decades. Noting that India is
planning "50 dams to raid the waters of the rivers" flowing into Pakistan, the
IBWC warned: "If this is not foiled, Pakistan will face the worst famine and
In April 2008, IBWC Chairman Hafiz Zahoorul Hassan Dahir stated that India
plans to construct 10 more dams on rivers streaming into Pakistan in addition to
the ongoing construction of 52 new dams. "We believe that if India succeeded in
constructing the proposed dams," Dahir disclosed, "Pakistan would join the list of
the countries facing a severe water crisis. If we are to save Pakistan, we have to
protect our waters and review our policies in Kashmir."
One month later, Dahir accused India of using 80 percent of the water of the
Chenab and Jhelum rivers and 60 percent of the water of the Indus, stating: "We
can do nothing about what India is doing but we are concerned about the role of
our government. If continued, this distribution of water would not only affect our
energy but also agricultural production. We wonder as to why we are leading
toward collective suicide." In May 2009, Dahir described "India's water terrorism
as a bigger threat than Talibani terrorism," and then added: "The day is not far
when circumstances like those in Somalia, Ethiopia and Chad will emerge inside
Pakistan... Between India and Pakistan, there is an extremely dreadful dispute. In
an aggressive manner, India has readied a weapon for use against Pakistan that is
more dangerous and destructive than an atomic bomb." Dahir warned that by 2012,
India will acquire the capability to completely stop the waters of the Jhelum and
One month after the inauguration of first phase of the Baglihar project by Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan's Indus Water
Commissioner and liaison between the countries within the framework of the 1960
treaty, warned that India plans to make Pakistan barren by 2014 by stopping its
water. At a seminar in Lahore, Shah contented that India is permitted to generate
electricity from the waters of the rivers but not to stop Pakistan's water as it has on
several occasions, most notably from August 19 to September 5, 2008, a
suspension presumably necessary to fill up the Baglihar dam. Pakistani leaders
estimate that during the 36 day hiatus from September-October 2008, India
deprived Pakistan of more than 1.2 million cusecs water.
Defense Security Concerns:
Within a week of the dam's October 2008 inauguration, Major General Athar
Abbas, a spokesman for the Pakistan Army, expressed concern over the Baglihar
dam, describing it as a "defense security concern." Abbas stated that a number of
canals, drains and artificial distributaries used for irrigation purposes are crucial
during times of war. The strategic importance of the Indian water projects in
Kashmir is so significant that officials from the Pakistani Army headquarters
attended a government meeting on the issue in February 2009 "to discuss the
impact of the said dams on Pakistan's water and defense interests... The armed
forces became alarmed when they learned the projects could wreak havoc... if the
said dams were to collapse or malfunction."
Retired General Zulfiqar Ali, former chairman of Pakistan's Water and Power
Development Authority expressed that by building dams on rivers in Kashmir,
India has achieved military, economic and political supremacy vis-a-vis Pakistan.
In an editorial, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Khabrain accused India of
using water as a weapon, proclaiming: "In order to establish its hegemony over the
region [of South Asia], India is even using water as a weapon." Sheikh Rasheed
Ahmad, a senior Pakistani politician and former Minister of Railways, has warned
that Pakistan and India may go to war on the issue of water, adding: "India wants
to make Pakistan a Somalia by stopping its water." Addressing a seminar in late-
2008, Javed Iqbal, an eminent retired justice in Pakistan, said, "the government of
Pakistan should pressure the Indian government to resolve this issue; and if it does
not agree, then a threat be issued that we are ready for a war."
A number of Pakistani commentators warned that the water issues may incite
nuclear war between the two countries. At the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a
convener of the Pakistani chapter of the Kashmiri secessionist organizations
alliance, Syed Yousaf Naseem stated that Pakistan is facing a water crisis and that
the Indian efforts to affect cuts in its water share from the rivers flowing into
Pakistan could compel Pakistan to use unconventional weapons against India.
Naseem added that: "The Kashmir issue is cardinal to Pakistan-India relations.
Unless this issue is resolved, the Damocles' sword of a nuclear clash will remain
hanging over the region. Kashmir is very important for Pakistan and a delay in the
resolution of this issue will jeopardize the peace of the region."
The warning of nuclear war between the two neighbors has been reiterated by
multiple sources, including veteran Pakistani editor Majeed Nizami. Even former
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a center-right politician who was responsible for
conducting the 1998 nuclear tests, warned in May 2009 that "the issues of water
and Kashmir must be resolved as early as possible so that the clouds of war
between Pakistan and India can be eliminated forever." A similar linking between
water issues and Kashmiri emancipation has been articulated by Hafiz Muhammad
Saeed, the founder of jihadist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. In an address to a
group of farmers in Lahore last year, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed warned that the
"water problem cannot be resolved without liberating Kashmir from India." Syed
Salahuddin, the chairman of the Muttahida Jihad Council, a network bringing
together nearly two dozen Pakistan-based militant organizations, warned in
October 2008 that jihad against India in Jammu & Kashmir will continue until the
territory is liberated.
Blaming the Jews:
Though a few Kashmiri secessionist organizations maintain their own
opinions on the water matters, Pakistan's water rows with India are essentially
bilateral in nature. However, religious and political commentators in Pakistan often
frame the issue in terms of an international conspiracy involving the Jews and
Majeed Nizami, editor-in-chief of Pakistan influential Urdu-language newspaper
Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt, inserted anti-Israel sentiments in an article that primarily
described India as the "eternal enemy of Pakistan." Nizami aaccused India of
blocking water from the Chenab River and further proclaimed that India wants to
destroy Pakistan, saying: "Our crops are not getting water. If this situation
continues, Pakistan will become Sudan and Somalia." Nizami elaborated on the
international threats faced by Pakistan, proclaiming that Pakistan's fight is with the
"Three Satans": India, the U.S. and Israel. Nizami accused these satanic nations of
being united against Pakistan because Pakistan is the only Islamic power with
nuclear capability. He added: "If, in order to resolve our problems, we have to
wage a nuclear war with India, we will."
At a seminar organized by Nazaria-e-Pakistan Foundation in April 2008 entitled
"Water Crisis “ Challenges Faced by the Nation and Their Solutions," Majeed
Nizami went to the extent of declaring that "the Hindus [of India] had decided to
make Pakistan barren even before 1947," i.e. before Pakistan was created.
Presiding over the seminar was Gen. (ret) Hamid Gul, former ISI chief, who
addressed the Indian dams on rivers from Jammu & Kashmir by warning: "The
nation needs to be determined. If necessary, India's dams will be blown up."
Though the subject of the seminar was water crisis in Pakistan, Gul went on to add:
"Two states came into existence in 1947 and 1948: one, Pakistan; two, Israel. The
two are threats to each other. Ultimately, only one of them will survive. Pakistan
can be saved by making a role model of the Prophet [Muhammad (s.a.w)]."
Alluding to Samuel P. Huntington's Clash-of-Civilizations thesis, Gul went on to
note: "At this point, the matter is not of a war between civilizations, but that of a
clash between systems. Islam is a humanity-loving religion. The West is fighting
the last battle for its survival."
Hafiz Zahoorul Hassan Dahir too has repeatedly accused India of working "in
cooperation with the Jewish lobby" on its power projects on the Indus, Chenab and
Jhelum rivers in order to stifle the Pakistani economy. In an article, Dahir accused
India of working on a "mega plan of water aggression against Pakistan," observing
that, "the practical objective of this plan is to ensure that Pakistan is reduced to
being a colony of India. A consortium has been set up in cooperation with the
Jewish lobby, three other nations, two multinational firms, one trans-national
NGO, secret agencies of three countries, including the Research & Analysis Wing
(RAW) of India, are involved." In another public statement, Dahir said that "with
the cooperation of the Jewish lobby, India has opened a battlefront of water war
aimed at making Pakistan fertile lands barren."
In an editorial concerning the water issues, the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama
Ausaf also attacked Israel. Accusing the Pakistani government of not developing a
counter-strategy to confront India's "dangerous ambitions," the article alluded to
external supporters of India's anti-Pakistani policy, claiming that, "India was given
easy rides which helped it complete most work on Baglihar dam." The Roznama
Ausaf editorial added that "with the aid of Israel, India also managed to build a
fence on the working boundary and on the Line of Control [in Kashmir]. It was
with Israeli help that India installed sensitive equipment on the working boundary
and Line of Control to monitor the movement of Kashmiri freedom fighters."
The International Conspiracy:
In April 2009, former member of Pakistani parliament and Emir of Jamaat-e-Islami
in the Sindh province Maulana Asadullah Bhutto said: "India is Pakistan eternal
enemy and from day one until now has been engaged in destroying Pakistan. It first
occupied Kashmir through a conspiracy, thereafter cut off our eastern arm
[creating Bangladesh] and for the past several years now has been stealing Pakistan
share of water... India is using Pakistan water and is engaged in efforts to make our
The Pakistan-India water dispute was discussed by the Majlis-e-Shura (executive
council) of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan in May 2009. In a resolution adopted at the
end of the meeting, the Jamaat-e-Islami condemned "water aggression" by India
and described it as "a dreadful international conspiracy to make Pakistan face a
situation like [the drought-stuck] Ethiopia by making Pakistan fertile lands barren."
At another meeting organized by the Jamaat-e-Islami in Lahore, Syed Salahuddin,
a jihadist commander based in Pakistani Kashmir, explained: "An attempt is being
made to change the character of the population of Kashmir by inhabiting it with
Hindus [from other parts of India] depriving Pakistan of water. Until now, India
has not accepted the existence of Pakistan. The 160 million people of Pakistan
support the Kashmiri mujahedeen [militants fighting against India in Kashmir],
making this fights the essence of Pakistan national interest. The Israeli and
Brahman [elite Hindu caste] imperialism can only be defeated by jihad and the use
of force. Jihad will continue to liberate every corner of Kashmir from the Indian
Although bitter feelings and heated public debates are likely to persist in the years
ahead, the people and leadership of Pakistan generally accept that there is nothing
that Pakistan can do, especially in light of the judgment delivered in February 2007
by the World Bank-appointed neutral expert Professor Raymond Lafitte. In an
editorial, the Pakistani daily The News observed: "The only way to avoid problems
arising is for the 1960 accord to be respected. India has, on more than one
occasion, attempted to violate its spirit if not its letter, by seeking loopholes and
technical flaws that can be used to its advantage. But in all this, there is also
another message. The interests of the two countries are so closely linked, that they
can be protected only by establishing closer ties. A failure to do so will bring only
more episodes of discord, over river water, over dams, over toxic dumping in
drains and over illegal border crossings...."
In late June 2009, Pakistani Water and Power Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf
observed that India does have a right to build dams, but that it cannot stop the flow
of water into Pakistan in order to fill the dams. In fact, Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan
Indus Water Commissioner, gave a rare candid interview in April 2008, stating that
the Indian water projects currently undertaken do not contravene the provisions of
the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. Noting that India can construct dams within the
technical specifications outlined in the treaty, Shah acknowledged: "In compliance
with the Indus Water Treaty, India has so far not constructed any storage dam on
the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers. The hydroelectric projects India is
developing are on the run-of-the-river waters of these rivers, projects which India
is permitted to pursue according to the treaty."