By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Muammil Hussain Chairman of WAPDA of Pakistan, complained about the unexpected release of water into Sutlej that flows into Pakistan from India as part of an attempt to flout the Indus Water Treaty!
In accusing India, he went beyond his brief and accused India of trying to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, strangulate economically and now trying to strangulate Pakistan’s water resources.
This is an extraordinary charge that goes beyond his brief and that too without proper evidence to base his allegations! He made a new accusation for the first time of India indulging in a “fifth generation” warfare against Pakistan.
Article VI of Indus Water Treaty gives full details of exchange of data between the two countries on a daily basis and on a quarterly basis as also at less frequent intervals. At any point of time Pakistan could have asked for details of discharge if it wanted and there was not such request earlier. At any rate from the discharge of water on the days prior to 19th August, Pakistan should have anticipated of increased flows from Sutlej in view of severe monsoon conditions in Punjab India.
The Indian side contended that under the treaty advance information needs to be given on water flows only when “extraordinary discharge of water from reservoirs and flood flows” occur that could harm the other party.
Till the 19th of August no such “extraordinary” situation had arisen for India to inform its Pakistani counterparts of excess discharge into the Sutlej. But on 19th evening when the level crossed the “threshold” Pakistan was informed of the increased flow. This is verifiable but Pakistan had chosen to ignore this information and instead went over to the international media to complain against India!
Khurram Shahzed, Director General of Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan complained to the Press (not to Indian authorities) that India did not communicate the release of water to Pakistan!
Whether the Indian side communicated the excess discharge of water from the Sutlej on 19th night could easily be verified and instead Pakistan chose to complain. Of late this has become a habit with Pakistan!
But Pakistan is soon going to feel the pinch, when the Indian side begins to use fully the eastern rivers that is authorized under the Indus Water Treaty. Jal Shakthi Minister Gajendra Singh Shekawat said that India has already begun the “first steps” to fully utilize the eastern rivers. He added that the country has already started the process of stopping the water flowing from the eastern rivers and diverting to other areas within Indian region during the lean periods and is not violative of the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty.
One could expect more complaints in international fora on this issue when works to utilize the waters of Eastern waters- the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej that legitimately belong to India are fully in place!