The long-stalled dispute and three intermittent wars between Pakistan and India over Kashmir owing to its geostrategic location as it contains water main hydrants besides being the main conduit from where the water goes to elsewhere including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and to some parts of Afghanistan, also manifest the potential of water to trigger any future conflict between regional states. Moreover if any war or conflict occurred, it would be more deadly and costly from the previous ones as South Asian states have now equipped themselves with nuclear weapons and missiles. Adding insult to the injury, this tumultuous situation has been more compounded by the devastating effects of climate change which is affecting the entire region’s topography, reliefs and eco system as the region is home to two major states India and China which are the world dominant emitters of carbon today. The routine violation of Indus water treaty on part of India either by choking or flooding western water streams that is the primary water source of Pakistan either- through construction of Kishanganga Dam and Tulbul Navigation project or by releasing more water in to it during monsoon seasons without any prior warming and notification- also lends credence to the lingering spectre of any future conventional war over water in the years to come.
India’s Machiavellian designs to secure Indus river basin by using water as a non-conventional weapon-tool against Pakistan have been facilitated by our own imprudent, irrational and politically expedient policies. Given western river stream cardinal role in sustaining our food, maintaining food and agri output , ensuring production of cheap electricity and by providing the necessary amount of water to keep the every small and large industrial engine mobile and flip our failure to install adequate arrangement and develop national responses at domestic and foreign level to fortify our national security that could thwart such Indian subversive activities providing another leverage to India in its vicious plot to overwhelm Pakistan by dint of such non-military or non-kinetic means.
While identifying domestic and foreign reciprocated measures which could serve as a pragmatic recourse. At Domestic level: Revamping and expanding our existing water physical infrastructure by increasing our reservoirs’ capacity and building more small and medium size reservoirs to cope with the problem of water overflows allegedly released by India during monsoon season; Resolve Inter-provincial disputes pertaining to sharing of water and dams such as Kalabagh; Revive, Autonomies and de-politicize regulatory body, IRSA, besides according each federating unit due representation in its entire policy, planning and decision making processes; Maintain Transparency and fairness in all ongoing water related projects i.e Neelum-jhelum project and Diamer-Bhahsa dam project besides ensuring its scheduled completion; Promote water conservation culture through public, private and civil society participation and by incentivizing modern methods and technologies which conserve water or in any way lowers water consumption in the given process either of domestic, agricultural or industrial nature. At foreign level: To secure international support against India for resolving the Kashmir dispute through robust and offensive diplomatic campaign; Build National consensus over water related issues to showcase a clear, coherent and congruent unanimous posture to India against its water aggression doctrines and grave violations of internationally recognized Indus water treaty; Expose India’s hegemonic policies of deteriorating the entire Indus river basin’s natural flow system by developing artificial diversion canals and other navigation channels which is a breach of international law besides maintaining that such belligerent attitude towards its immediate neighbours is threatening regional peace and security and would lead to war if arbitrary intervention is not made by the International community and its immediate offices i.e United nations, World Bank and International court of Justice These domestic and external reciprocal approaches however failed to contextualize and instead perversely aggravated the very crisis as state as a whole ignored the seminal role of national integrity in the pursuance of all aforementioned strategies coupled with its unwillingness to forge national integrity which could have brought all the federating units together to unify on such national agenda adopted for said purposes. Moreover if national unity was first inculcated in all such matters of interest it would have facilitated the state not only in its attempt to develop policies but also assisted the state in the implementation of that policy requiring particular course of action and appropriate contribution from every state stakeholders entailing provinces, civil-society and corporate sector for fruition. Nevertheless the fact, 18th constitutional amendment has resituated the federal and parliamentary status of Pakistan through power devolution and Provincial autonomy consolidation however ill treatment and non-utilization of Council of common interest forum by all federating units for the resolution of sub-national disputes specifically with respect to water and its associated sectors indicates the interdependent nexus of water crisis with the national unity.
The Pakistani nation has been enduring through tough times. It has been mired in a dire dilemma of water crisis. As popular idioms says “every crowd has a silver lining” implies that with every difficult situation there must always exist a way-out too. In national unity lies our way-out plan; because annals of Nations History revealed that whenever any nation had been confronted with existential crisis its ultimate strength had always been a demonstration of national integrity and integration in the face of such crisis. It has been widely suggested that future wars would be fought over waters even though our dysfunctional and timorous attitude towards the containment of water crisis is very dismal but it should spur us to take action besides motivating our state-ship to adjust its sails with the prevailing storm.