A former Indus water commissioner sees India’s move to expedite construction of controversial hydropower projects in Occupied Kashmir as a serious threat to Pakistan’s water security.
“If India succeeds in actualising its plans, it will get control over Pakistan’s water from western rivers,” said Syed Jamaat Ali Shah while talking to The Nation yesterday.
He was asked about implications for Pakistan of the reported move of New Delhi about accelerating work on $15 billion worth projects in occupied region of Kashmir.
“This is a clear warning for Pakistan. This is what Indian Prime Minister Modi had announced some three months back that water and blood cannot flow together,” said the former water commissioner.
India’s plan appeared at a time when the Indus water commissioners of the two countries are going to resume talks in Islamabad on Monday. The agenda of the meeting has yet to be known but some insiders say Pakistan will take up the issue of India’s controversial projects on River Chenab and Jhelum except from Kishanganga and Rattle as the case of both the projects was referred to the World Bank. The water commissioners would also share water releases data from different barrages.
Although Shah condemned India’s hostile attitude towards Pakistan, he was equally shifting the blame on Pakistan’s present and past governments which, according to him, badly failed to secure water rights of the country.
“Why India will sit idle when our own government is doing nothing,” he questioned.
He pointed out rulers’ negligence for decades in building indigenous resources, constituting think tanks on water, developing legal expertise in hydel power and modernise office of Indus water commissioner.
“How much experts on water law so far produced or trained by the government to confront India’s schemes at international level?. We go in search of foreigners whenever we need to go against India at international level.”
“Do we have any think tank on water, do we even have any policy on water?”
Shah was vocal against Pakistan’s Indus water commission which he said did not have capability to confront challenges posed by India.
“Now the things are not in control of Indus water commission. The government must seek a detailed report of Indian projects on western rivers and put it before the experts to seek their point of view on it. We need a cohesive and modern policy to secure our water rights.”
Opposing engagement of foreign office into the water issues, Shah suggested that the office of ministry of water and power should be fully empowered to hold talks with India in light of the opinion of water experts.
“Our policies should not be reactory rather they should be formed keeping in mind our own need,” he held.