Monday, December 29, 2008

Water as a tool of war

The time has come to use whatever powers and advantages we have at our disposal in order to win the war that has been forced upon India. Because conventional war is out of the question and diplomacy can only go so far with a two-faced adversary like Pakistan who says one thing, means something different and ultimately does what it intends to do.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed by Nehru and Ayyub Khan in 1960 with the World Bank as the third signatory. It gave Pakistan exclusive use of the Indus waters as well as its tributaries, the Jhelum and the Chenab. While India was allocated the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej. But India also has a right to 'run of the river' projects which do not disrupt the flow of water to Pakistan. One such project is the 450 Mw Baglihar hydro-electric dam project across the Chenab in Kashmir. This was inaugurated earlier this year amid strong protests by the Pak Government.

In 2005 Pakistan had sought the World Bank's intervention to stop construction of the Baglihar dam and the hydroelectricity power project, but Bank-appointed experts had cleared the project while asking India to restrict the overall height of the dam.

Earlier India had to stop construction of Tulbul Navigation Project on the River Jhelum on account of objections raised by Pakistan. While India maintained that the project was designed to improve navigation, especially during the winter when the water level recedes, Pakistan said that it is a storage project which will affect the flow of water. Work on the project has remained stalled for 20 years.

The Indus Waters Treaty is in fact the only treaty which has withstood all Indo-Pak wars, Kargils and the various terror attacks that we have witnessed lately. And this has been due to India's taking a moral stance and not using water as a weapon of war.

The Tulbul Navigation Project was one of eight issues under discussion in the stalled Pakistan-India Composite Dialogue process. Now is the time to use this to our advantage and restart its construction unilaterally, to send a strong signal to Pakistan.

1 comment:

Vinod_Sharma said...

The Indus Water Treaty is one more of the many instances where we just threw away our strategic lever out of ignorance to Pakistan which was fully alive to the power that India could exert by using water as a tool of war.

Projects like Tulbul will not give any military advantage to India. The Treaty has survived only because Pakistan benefits from it and India does not have the necessary resolve to abrogate it despite all provocations and start constructing dams specifically as tools of war.