There should be little doubt by now that, for all the protests that Islamabad has been making against New Delhi’s water terrorism committed with the aim of depriving Pakistan of its legitimate share of this life-giving nature’s gift to humanity, it is bent upon building projects in the upper reaches of rivers flowing into Pakistan that would turn them dry. Numerous water diversion schemes have either been completed or are being carried out on rivers that have been designated for exclusive use by Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). Consequently, once the granary of the entire subcontinent, it would become a barren land, ruining its agriculture, the very base of its economy. Already, their impact is being strongly felt. The Baglihar and Kishanganga projects are two of these big projects.
India's attitude towards us since then is a standing indictment of the partiality of its apologists. And plans like raising hydel power projects like Ratal, Kanai and Mayar are sufficient proof of India’s bad intentions. According to a press report, a meeting of Indus Waters Commissioners of Pakistan and India was held in Lahore on Saturday and Sunday where the Indian representative presented the designs of these three projects for scrutiny by Pakistan. The Pakistan commissioner, however, rejected all of them after thoroughly scrutinising them since they would seriously impinge upon the country’s right to its due share of water, as assigned to it under the IWT. While New Delhi would give the impression that they are run-of-the-river electricity-generating schemes that would not curtail the water flowing downstream, the engineers acquainted with their details would know the exact logic behind their rejection. The report does not enlighten the reader of the reasons for not agreeing to the designs. However, considering the practice India has been following in the past in the case of such hydel projects, the new projects could be another case of creating reservoirs upstream of them to be utilised for irrigation purposes as well. Thus, it is inconceivable that the water flow downstream would not markedly come down.
The point now is that the rejection of these designs ought not to be the end of the exercise. Pakistan must prepare a strong case, built on facts and figures and actively pursue the matter, first with the Indians to have either the designs suitably amended or the projects altogether abandoned. No delaying tactics should be accepted. In case of failure, we should have recourse to the appropriate international forum for redress. At the same time, Pakistan should not waste time and build water reservoir projects like Kalabagh and Diamir-Bhasha and any other, big or small, that could prove feasible, both for the generation of cheap power and for irrigation purposes.