View Full Version : 'Water war', Pakistani style - Khaled Ahamd - 30th November 2012

1st December 2012, 02:52 AM
Pakistan first thought it could go for arbitration over India's Wullar Barrage on Jhelum River under the Indus Waters Treaty (1960), but the lawyers in New York told Islamabad it did not have a good case. Then it went for arbitration over the Baglihar Dam on Chenab River and lost the case. The latest development this year is that it raised a storm over India's Nimoo-Bazgo Dam on Indus River, only to be advised that it would lose at the more expensive Court of Arbitration.

November 2012 was a milestone month in the process of Indo-Pak normalisation of relations through free trade under a SAARC commitment called SAFTA. The month saw a thoughtful event staged by Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. It hosted a seminar India-Pakistan Relations: Prospects and Challenges jointly with India Pakistan Retired Soldiers Initiative for Peace (IPSI).

Among the positive aspects of the new relationship addressed by the two sides were two outstanding issues: Kashmir dispute and the quarrel over river waters. The river waters issue was raised by the Pakistani side along with the perennial Kashmir dispute; it received a measured response from the other side. Similar points were raised by the Pakistani side when an Indian chambers of commerce delegation visited Lahore earlier.

The year 2011 can be described as a critical period of media hype about yet another alleged Indian trespass into the waters apportioned to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (1960) although the war cries had been gathering strength during 2010, centring on the Pakistani Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah.

Jihadi periodical Jamaatud Dawa newspaper Jarrar (5 March 2010) reported that the people of Pakistan thought that Pakistan's Indus Water Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah was bodily a Pakistani but his tongue spoke the language of Hindus. He had not stopped making the strange statement (darfuntani) that India had not stolen Pakistan's water. Jamaat Ali Shah was getting his salary from Pakistan but working for India, the paper said.

Unfortunately, Jamaatud Dawa took out a procession on Lahore's central mall in February 2010, its leader Hafiz Said making provocative speeches. Later the Chief of the Army Staff and the Prime of Pakistan also raised 'the issue of waters' in their statements.

Reported in Nawa-e-Waqt (3 June 2010) a seminar held by Nawa-e-Waqt Group of newspapers decided that Pakistan's Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah was no longer speaking for Pakistan but was defending the Indian position on the stealing of river waters by India through 62 dams. Speakers including such "illustrious" men as Ambassador (Retd) Javed Hussain who said that India was stealing one crore forty acre feet of water and that the Indus Water Treaty was only good for the 1960s but today India's water aggression could lead to an Indo-Pak war that would soon turn into a nuclear world war.

Nawa-e-Waqt further reported that Indus Waters Treaty Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah, while leaving for New Delhi to talk about waters shared by India and Pakistan, said that Pakistan was getting its share of waters under the Indus Treaty and that building a dam was the right of India. He said less water in Pakistani rivers was because of lack of rain, not because India had blocked it. The statement was a shock to many who thought India was waging a water war against Pakistan.

Quoted in Jang, Indus Water Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah said in Lahore that Indus Water Treaty between Pakistan and India was an unhappy marriage over the years. He said India was preparing to build 25 to 20 dams on the rivers given to Pakistan. Although the dams were allowed by the treaty India should act on the spirit of the Treaty and agree to amend the amount of water given by the treaty to India from three Pakistani rivers. The reason was that the water flow in these rivers had decreased.

Reported in Nawa-e-Waqt (16 Dec 2010) Jamaat Ali Shah Pakistani's Indus Waters Commissioner under the Indus Treaty was made OSD by the PM after many years in service once considered meritorious. He was made the commissioner in 1993 and was on the job till 2010 while India changed four commissioners during this period. Zahurul Hasan Dahir of the anti-India lobby said Shah had accepted Indian influence and had allowed Indian dams to be built on rivers belonging to Pakistan.

Reported in Jang (5 Jan 2012), Indus Waters ex-commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah facilitated the building of India's illegal Nimoo-Bazgo dam so that Leh could get electricity which means that Indian soldiers at Siachen would get the benefit of more comfort through use of electricity.

Quoted in daily Pakistan (4 Jan 2012), former Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah said in Canada that he was surprised by news that he had run away to Canada after violating exit-control orders against him. He said he had come to Canada to look after his ill mother and despite retirement from his job he had informed the concerned authorities before departing Pakistan. He said he was available to answer any charges.

On 23 January 2012, the Ministry of Water and Power and its subordinate institution - the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) - started probing deeper into the alleged involvement of former Indus Water commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah in allegedly "facilitating" Indian authorities to construct the controversial Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project. FIA swooped down and took control of the office of the Commissioner and began pouring over its files.

Dawn (16 April 2011) reported: 'Intelligence agencies seized on Friday the record of at least two federal ministries to investigate an alleged institutional lapse of not raising objections over Indian aggression on the country's water rights and securing international carbon credits on hydropower projects disputed by Pakistan'.

A preliminary report maintained that the former water commissioner did not play his due role and remained silent over the Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project (built by India during 2002-2009) and did not raise any objections during the Pak-India meetings. But surprisingly, the commission started pursuing the project vigorously at all levels when it was known that it would be impossible to change the design of the project after its completion. The 57-metre-high controversial Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric project is being developed in the Leh district on the Indus River and it is a run-of-the-river power project on the Indus River situated in village Alchi, 70 kilometres from Leh.

Express Tribune (3 January2012) reported: 'Pakistan is gearing up for yet another legal battle over India's 'aggression' on the country's water rights and securing international carbon credits on hydropower projects disputed by Pakistan. The latest case under dispute is the construction of the controversial 45-MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project on the Indus River by India, after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani approved challenging the project in the International Court of Arbitration (ICA)'.

Daily Times (18 July 2012) reported that the federal government had decided not to file a lawsuit in the Permanent Court of Arbitration-International Court of Arbitration (PCA-ICA) in Hague regarding its concerns and grievances over the controversial 45MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric power project.

Annexure C of the Indus Waters Treaty is about India's right to divert certain amount of water in certain months from the Western Rivers given to Pakistan. There is also no bar on the building of water storage for electricity production or any other non-consumptive use on Western Rivers (Annexure E). If anyone complains in Pakistan about India building dams and taking some water out of our rivers, he speaks out of ignorance.

Brahma Chellaney in his book Water: Asia's New Battleground (Harper/Collins 2011) remarks: 'Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a national news conference in April 2010 and said: "Is India stealing that water from you? No, it is not. Please do not fool yourself and do not misguide the nation. We are mismanaging that water". Despite his confession, the Pakistani government has continued to spotlight water as a contentious bilateral matter. One possible reason for its raking up the water issue in recent years is that it helps Pakistan to redirect attention away from India's focus on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory as the core concern'