Pak-India friendship is the most essential and almost inevitable element for a long lasting and deep rooted peace in South Asia. The present warlike scenario along the Pak-India borders can adopt an altogether different look if the two countries put aside all their differences, ignoring the past and simply keeping in view the regional betterment. Some people might call this situation nothing but ‘a day dreaming’ but dreams are the foundation of reality. The Indian premier Dr. Man Mohan Singh in one of his recent statements has expressed his willingness regarding the friendly relationship between the two neighbouring countries. He has very strangely given a different colour to his traditional approach towards Pakistan that the investigation process regarding the Mumbai blasts must not hinder the peace process between the two countries. In other words he has supported the stance of Pakistan that the non-state actors should not be allowed to mar the efforts for good relationship between two countries. This change in the behaviour of the Indian prime minister is something very positive and admirable. The people of Pakistan are expecting from him the same gentleness in the solution all other deep rooted conflicts. The river-water issue is one of the most grievous problems which would never let the two countries come close to each other if not timely and properly taken care of. India is curtailing the down stream water coming towards Pakistan by making dams at various points; and all this is being done in violation of the Indus Water Treaty.
India knows very well what happens when rivers are deprived of water. Recently Indian media has raised a great hue and cry regarding a proposed dam on the Brahmaputra River by China. This project has been given different names; The Zangmu Hydroelectric Project, Yarlong Tsangpo and The Yarlungzangbo. This alleged project is expected to generate 540 mega watts of electricity. According to the Indian media the Chinese are planning a series of five dams along this river in the Nanshan Region of Tibet at Zangmu, Jiacha, Zhongda, Jiexu and Langzhen. The government of China has officially expressed its annoyance at this baseless propaganda and ranked it as ‘rumors ignited by exaggerators’. According to the official sources of China there is no concrete decision on these projects so far. When compared with China, India is a lower riparian country. The hue and cry raised by the Indian government through its media shows its fearful reservations about water diversions and storage plans. But on the other hand, Indian attitude towards its own lower riparian countries is shockingly contrary to what it feels about China.
Water stealing has been a hobby of India since long. The neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are the worst victim to this hobby. For so many months, Dr. Soibam of Earth Sciences University Manipur had been warning the government of India of the serious environmental threats regarding the construction of Tapaimukh Dam on Barrak River in Manipur state. He had pointed out the presence of active earthquake fault lines beneath the construction site but his warnings were intentionally ignored because the Indian planners had something else in their minds. The only purpose behind the construction of this dam was to cause a virtual draught in Bangladesh by destroying its fisheries, agriculture and trade. The construction of controversial Farraka and Teesta barrages was also based on the same ill-will against Bangladesh. Same is the case with the construction of Baghliar Dam on River Jhelum in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. India has already diverted the waters of River Chenab just to turn Pakistan into a barren land. The most painful fact is that India has done all these constructions in violation of the Indus Basin Water Treaty signed by India and Pakistan somewhere in 1960.The World Bank was the guarantor of this treaty. Pakistan, on the basis of this treaty, compromised its water rights on River Satluj, Ravi and the River Beas. India in turn had promised to leave the water of Jhelum un-diverted. Pakistan invested a lot in construction of link canals to irrigate affected areas of lower Indus Basin. The encroachments on Pakistani waters like Baghliar Dam are a heinous effort of destroying the whole of social and economic fiber of Pakistan. Man Mohan’s comments regarding the revival of peace process are surely encouraging but without redressing these grievances the peace caravan can never proceed smoothly. If the Indian premier is really serious in his desire for peace in the region, he will have to play a Captain’s Innings. The diversion of Pakistani river waters and human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir are the two basic problems which always hinder the peace process between the two countries. Along with the water conflict, he must keep in his mind that Kashmir is the core issue between India and Pakistan. It is a nuclear flash point in South Asia and has the potential to spoil the regional peace at any moment. There is a dire need to resolve this issue at priority, otherwise peace and progress will remain a far cry for the region while the terrorism and extremism will keep haunting both India and Pakistan with considerable negative impact on the development of other South Asian nations.
The picture of life in the Indo-Pak subcontinent is gradually getting a new colour. The terrorists are being crushed and terrorism is being dispelled. Now there is no more room for any kind of atrocities and human rights violations. Depriving fertile lands of water and human beings of their basic human rights is also a form of terrorism. Mr. Man Mohan Singh could certainly become a legendry immortal figure if he succeeds in saving his neighbours from these two horrible forms of terrorism.
The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.