As if in response to Pakistan’s attempts to try to woo it, India has announced the building of a dam on the Chenab five times bigger the Baglihar Dam. The Paakal Dal Dam, a hydroelectric project to be completed in 4 years, has attracted no objection from the Pakistani Indus Water Commissioner, even though it represents another violation of the Indus Waters Basin Treaty. India has lined up the finances for the project, which it will begin next month and build on a fast track, from international finance institutions. This is probably the flip side of the decision by the World Bank not to ask for an Indian NOC before providing Pakistan aid for the Bhasha-Diamer Dam, as disclosed by federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar while speaking to journalists on Tuesday.
The problem of water theft by India will only be solved by a solution to the Kashmir problem. Apart from the political problem of relations between the two neighbours, the solution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people would also ensure that the artificial separation between the Indus and its head waters would be ended. However, former Foreign Minister Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali said while speaking at a Press Institute of Pakistan seminar on Tuesday that the present government was not focusing on the real issues. Without pointing out that he also avoided them as Benazir Bhutto’s Foreign Minister in 1993-6, it must be noted that because India is allowed to get away with not talking about Kashmir, but to discuss whatever else it wants, Pakistan not only fails to make known its unease over India making permanent changes to water sources, but also it fails to come close to making India discuss the implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir, and let India ride roughshod over all dialogue and talk only about issues of its interest.
It has been predicted often enough that the next wars will be over water. Pakistan and India have been to war thrice in the past, and now any confrontation might be nuclear. Therefore, solving the Kashmir issue has become all the more necessary. The only way out is for Pakistan to make it clear to India it will not talk about any other issue, without talking about Kashmir first. The water issue is one of a number of issues related to Kashmir, and solving the Kashmir issue means solving a whole host of issues.