We should abrogate all treaties with India. It only understands the stick. Indian Prime Minister Modi wants to make Pakistan a desert.” So declared Irshadullah Khan, the secretary general of the Oxbridge (Oxford and Cambridge) Society’s Islamabad chapter at a recent event in the Pakistani capital. India’s talk of reviewing the Indus Waters Treaty and building dams on rivers which flow into Pakistan from Kashmir may end in a nuclear war, where “500 most powerful bombs can go off swallowing up the whole world. Modi needs to be restrained immediately. Our intelligence agencies must reach out to their counterparts to explain what a dangerous game India is playing,” he said.
Other speakers too raised the spectre of a nuclear war over water. This rhetoric comes in the backdrop of Modi’s declaration that “blood and water cannot flow together” and his threat to review the World Bank mediated treaty after the terrorist attacks on military bases in Kashmir last year. More recently, a wire service quoted Indian officials as saying that India has fast-tracked hydropower projects worth $15bn in Kashmir, despite angry protests from Pakistan.
“We have developed barely one-sixth of the hydropower capacity potential in the state in the last 50 years,” Reuters quoted a senior Water Resources Ministry official as saying earlier this week. At the same time, there are reports that although other talks are on hold, Indian officials may take part in a scheduled meeting of the Indus Commission in Pakistan later this month. India’s position is that the new power plants do not violate the treaty, and thus requires no mediation. While Pakistan, instead of silly sabre-rattling, should stop using terror as an instrument of state policy and build the infrastructure needed to store water, India should keep in mind that Kashmir is an ecologically sensitive area. Also, New Delhi should not forget that China controls the Brahmaputra water that flows into India.