Water terrorism by India to overawe Pakistan
By Asif Haroon Raja
The majestic and ravishing landscape of the Kashmir Valley is so enchanting that whosoever happens to visit it gets spell-bounded and overawed by its natural beauty and longs to revisit it. The fairy land is rich in gem stones, timber and is laden with juicy fruits of all kinds; the men are fair colored, handsome, hardworking and skilled in handicrafts; and the women are beautiful and charming. The valley is rightly called the paradise on earth. It is, however, irony of fate that its beauty, fruits and freshness of air have only been enjoyed by foreign invaders and by tourists and not by the inhabitants of Kashmir. All the conquerors treated the people of Kashmir like slaves. This serene and enthralling valley has been converted into virtual hell for the Kashmiris. Except for 1-2% affluent Kashmiris, it is difficult for the rest to keep body and soul together.
Notwithstanding the cruel rules of earlier rulers, Kashmir was subjected to worst excesses in 1846 AD, when she passed into the hands of Dogra chieftain Maharaja Gulab Singh for a paltry sum of seven and a half million rupees through infamous Sale Deed of Amritsar, executed by the British conquerors of Sikh territory. The Dogra Hindu rule extending over more than a hundred years from 1846 till 1947 was one of the blackest periods in the history of Kashmir. Gulab Singh (1846-56) sucked the very life blood of the people. The last of the autocratic Dogra rulers was Hari Singh who had to abdicate power on 26 October 1947 in the face of freedom movement launched by Azad forces of Kashmir and tribal lashkar. The latter had come to the rescue of Kashmiri Muslims on 24 October 1947 after learning that they were being brutally butchered by Dogra Army and Hindu terrorist gangs.
By that time Pakistan had come on the world map but was only two months old. 80% of Muslim subjects of Kashmir under the leadership of Ghulam Abbas, chairing Muslim Conference had aspired to join up with Pakistan and had moved a resolution to that effect. But for the wily role of pro-Indian National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah who was duped by Nehru, machinations of Congress leaders and Mount Batten would have failed.
Despite the mismatch, Pakistan forces put up a valiant fight and succeeded in keeping Kashmir a disputed territory requiring resolution through a fair and free plebiscite under the supervision of the UN so as to allow right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. One-third of Kashmir which is known as Azad Kashmir was retained by Pakistan, which acts as the operational base for the freedom struggle in two-third Indian occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan had laid claims on Kashmir on the basis of ideological, religious, political and geographical linkages. Pakistan shared with Kashmir three of its rivers namely Indus, Chenab and Jhelum which originate from Himalayan part of Kashmir and form the backbone of its agriculture and literally the aqua vital. The other three rivers flowing into West Pakistan were Ravi, Sutlej and Beas had its origins in Indian Territory. Pakistan being a lower riparian was placed at a distinct disadvantage at the very outset particularly when viewed in context with India’s bellicosity and expansionist designs and its failure to reconcile with existence of Pakistan. Hindu leaders had agreed to the creation of Pakistan under the illusion that it would live as a satellite under the gigantic shadow of Indian military, or would beg for re-integration into Indian Union within six months of its birth.
The 15-month 1948 war ended in January 1949 as a result of UNSC arranged ceasefire which was requested by India. Nehru agreed to stop the war after he assessed that major part of Kashmir including the enchanting vale, Jammu and origins of three rivers had been annexed, and that Pakistan being a lower riparian would be perpetually at its mercy. Liaquat Ali Khan accepted the ceasefire since at that time fledgling Pakistan was too deeply immersed in host of intractable problems. Prolongation of war would have been at the cost of survival of Pakistan. He was sure that the pledges given by Nehru and UNSC to hold a free and fair plebiscite under the auspices of the UN would be honored.
Nehru however made a u-turn on his promises and not only disregarded the UN resolutions but also started integrating Kashmir into Indian Union through deception, fraud and use of brute force. India’s negative attitude and flagrant disregard of UN resolutions on Kashmir thwarted all attempts to settle the dispute by peaceful means. Instead of reaching an amicable settlement with Pakistan, it all along tried to pressurize Pakistan into giving up its demand for a just and fair settlement of the issue. Its obduracy and bellicosity led to 1965 Indo-Pak war and even the 1971 war was a result of unsettled Kashmir dispute. The two sides came close to war in 1990-91 and clashed with each other in Dras-Kargil sectors in the summer of 1999 due to Kashmir. Decision of the two countries to go nuclear in 1998 was also motivated by Kashmir, India wanting to retain its illegal hold over it and Pakistan wanting a just solution.
Laws framed by the US on terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 suited India and Israel the most. Encouraged by the US, the two terrorist and expansionist states involved in massive human rights against Palestinians and Kashmiris respectively for decades became more barbaric. Pakistan by agreeing to become a front line state at the behest of USA to combat global terrorism got completely distracted from Kashmir and got deeply immersed in fighting its own people. Indo-Pak peace treaty signed between Gen Musharraf and Vajpayee in January 2004 gave new hopes of resolution of Kashmir dispute and other core issues. However, tall promises made by India proved elusive since it wasted time in futile CBMs and kept the core issues on the sidelines. India availed the elusive peace along the LoC to its advantage by intensifying its atrocities against marooned Kashmiri Mujahideen, devoid of support from Jihadi groups based in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan.
When India could no more drag its feet and situation in Occupied Kashmir became explosive following dispute over Shri Amarnath land, India’s RAW in connivance with Mossad and CIA engineered Mumbai attacks drama on 26 November 2008, blamed Pakistan, stalled composite dialogue and reverted to its old hostile posture. Whole-hearted support of the US, western world and Israel as well as of Afghanistan together with easy induction of sophisticated weaponry from advanced world made the Indian leaders highly belligerent and uncompromising. Its military leaders openly talked of resorting to Cold Start doctrine to overrun Pakistan.
Pakistan tardily realized that it had been deceived by India under the garb of peace treaty and its real motive was to proceed with its covert war from Afghanistan and cultural war from its own soil so as to encircle Pakistan in a three-directional pincer and make it powerless. FATA and Balochistan were made volatile to play the Balochistan and Pashtunistan cards and to force Pakistan to give up Kashmir. Water war was operationalized by building dams over the three rivers flowing into Pakistan from Occupied Kashmir to choke Pakistan.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had rightly termed Kashmir as the jugular vein of Pakistan since cutting of the jugular vein causes instant death to a person, and if it is pressed hard, it renders the person half-dead. Sensing the wicked designs of the Hindu leaders, Jinnah could foresee that if the jugular vein gets severed in the process of partition of India, it would cause death to Pakistan, and if it is choked it would make Pakistan comatose. An enemy grip on the hill courses of these three rivers could starve West Pakistan. Furthermore, it could enable India to either flood Pakistanis living in low lying West Punjab, or choke water flow and cause drought and kill them, or flood or dry up canals suiting its military design during war.
He had rightly decided to stand up to the Indian aggression in 1948 irrespective of the fact that in that timeframe newly born Pakistan was engulfed in multi-dimensional problems. Had the two ill-equipped infantry brigades together with Azad forces and tribesmen not resisted Indian military’s Summer Offensive launched in April 1948, whole of Kashmir would have been annexed by India. And had we not agreed to ceasefire as desperately demanded by India and continued fighting, our forces could have pushed out the thoroughly demoralized and exhausted Indian forces from Kashmir.
His apprehensions have come true and India is doing exactly what he had visualized in 1947. Despite signing Indus Basin Treaty in 1960, which gave exclusive water rights of Western Rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus flowing down from Occupied Kashmir to Pakistan, India in blatant violation of the said treaty has not only usurped the full quota of the three eastern rivers namely Beas, Sutlej and Ravi, but taking full advantage of the jugular vein which is in its iron grip is pressing it from many points by building dozens of dams to suffocate Pakistan to death or to make it gasp for life and thus forget about Kashmir.
India has ventured upon an ambitious plan worth $120 billion to divert waters of Rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus flowing from north to south and turn fertile lands of Pakistan into a desert. So far, it has built 65 dams and headworks, but has plans to build a total of 300 small and big size dams so as to gain total control over the three rivers. It is constructing a 3800 km long canal in order to divert water from River Indus to River Sutlej. This project will be completed by 2014. In addition, construction of series of canals measuring 14000 km is also in the pipeline, which will help connect 14 rivers of India. From 2008 onwards, West Punjab’s standing crops are getting severely damaged due to water shortage caused by Baghliar dam.
Violation of Indus Basin Treaty is in line with India’s national policy of backtracking from its pledges and breaking international agreements and defying the UN. India intends to complete its water denial plan to Pakistan by 2016 after which Pakistan will get deprived of its share of water. Pakistan’s condition will become worse than Somalia and Ethiopia, the two drought ridden countries. If India opens the gates of these illegal dams, it can sink Pakistan within 48 hours. With no end to its malevolence, India has now managed to coax its strategic partner Afghanistan to build dams over River Kabul and has offered its full assistance. This would further worsen water problem of Pakistan. India has full backing of USA, UK and Israel as well as the western world as a whole since none has ever taken notice of this most pitiless form of terrorism against humanity. Among host of coercive tactics applied by the gang of six based in Kabul, water terrorism is one of the cruelest forms to overawe Pakistan and break its will to resist. I wonder what the preachers of Aman-ki-Asha who are spending their entire energies to present the soft image of India have to say about the excessive human rights violations of Indian security forces against the Kashmiris including teenagers and water terrorism against Pakistan, which will suck the very life blood of the people of Pakistan. Brahman Hindus are far crueler than Hindu Dogras in Kashmir.
Unlike India which starts howling like a spanked child on slightest suspicion, or procurement of a weapon by Pakistan, or a terrorist attack and makes a mountain out of a mole, and the US led western world rush forward to extend their wholehearted support to anguished India lamenting over cooked up grievances, our leaders on the other hand for unexplained reasons remain tightlipped even when the very survival of Pakistan is at stake. Our lackadaisical approach encouraged India to build dams in contravention to the treaty. India managed to build so many dams illegally since we didn’t make noise and failed to take up the case with international bodies in time. Jamaat Ali Shah, deputed to protect Pakistan’s water interests remained in a laid-back position thereby allowing India to complete construction of Baghliar dam and now the Kishinganaga dam. He has gone in exile.
Pakistan should immediately take up this grave matter in the UNSC and International Court of Justice and under the UN deputed unbiased Commission carryout on spot inspection of all the spots on Rivers Chenab, Jhelum and Indus where dams have been/are being built and put an end to India’s madness. The writer is a retired Brig and a freelance defence analyst and a columnist. He commanded heaviest infantry brigade in Lipa-Pandu-Pir Kanthi sectors in Azad Kashmir during the Indo-Pak military standoff in 1990-91.