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Jun 01, 2020 PRINT EDITION

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem Monday said India had started using the water from rivers Indus, Jehlum and Chenab for industrial purpose, which was a violation of the Indus Basin Treaty 1960 and a blatant human rights desecration.

The treaty had ensured that India could only use water to generate electricity from these rivers if it did not disrupt water supply to Pakistan, he added.

He was speaking as the chief guest at an international conference on "Water: Future War and Peace in Subcontinent," organized by Centre for Global Strategic Studies (CGSS) here.

Delivering a presentation on “Water Sharing: A Critical Evaluation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)” he said that the international community must play its role to urge India to fulfill its international obligations regarding the Indus Basin Treaty.

Barrister Farogh Naseem said that disputes related to water between Pakistan and India started in 1948, right after both the countries became independent.

He said, “Both the countries have fought two wars on the issue of water. While both parties complied with the Indus Basin Treaty of 1960. India cannot unilaterally annul the Treaty since it can only be done mutually.”

The minister stated, “India plans to build dams over rivers Jehlum and Chenab which is of great concern to Pakistan,” and “the world must take notice of water aggression by India and the World Bank needs to play a neutral role in this regard.”

He said, “The Indus River is the longest in Asia and 47 percent of its water falls in the territory of Pakistan. According to the Article 3 of Indus Water Treaty, there must be unrestricted flow of water whereas India is using this water for building its technical infrastructure.”

However, the requirement, he said of Pakistan is to use this water for basic agriculture and domestic needs. The usage of water for basic agriculture and domestic use is more important for establishment of the infrastructure, he underscored.

“It is an international human rights issue as the problem lies in the implementation of Indus Water Treaty. India repeatedly intimidates Pakistan to revoke the treaty whereas it cannot be done so, as this is the only treaty which cannot be terminated without mutual consent."

He said, "The present situation is alarming and demands the resolution of this conflict through Indus Water Treaty otherwise the treaty is merely a piece of paper and if this conflict is not resolved now, it can lead to a bigger conflict in the future. Disturbing the timings of water flow is a grave violation and must be taken into consideration,” he maintained.

The conference in light of the decreasing availability and increasing demand for water aimed at highlighting the escalating threat for the future conflict.

The conference commenced with the opening remarks of Chairman CGSS, Lt Gen (R) Muhammad Zahir Ul Islam whereas the forum had two consultative sessions with various notable speakers and experts deliberated on multidimensional issues pertaining to critical evaluation of the Indus Water Treaty, melting glaciers in Himalayas, War on Water Crisis between India and Pakistan, Water resource management to water as a key factor for Pakistan’s strategic relations in the region whereas more than 300 participants including water experts attended the Conference.

During the first session, Chairman Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), Lt Gen (R) Muzammil Hussain gave his presentation on “Water Resource Management: Challenges and Opportunities for Pakistan”.

He said, “There is no need to panic, there is no water shortage, there is only a need to manage these resources efficiently.”

He observed that the data regarding water resources was important as it was essential for research and future hydel projects.

“Pakistan is a water stressed country as per capita availability of water is low and we need to conserve, store and manage our water resources. Along with this, we need to handle our population growth,” he added.

“Currently, we do not have sufficient finances to build water dams but we have to come up with more innovative financial mechanism,” he said.

Refferring to the Diamer Bhasha dam project, he said that in June 2019, the Diamer Bhasha dam would be made functional.

The second session began with the remarks of Former Commander of Sri Lankan Navy, Admiral (R) Jayanath Colombage on Maritime Security Governance in Indian Ocean Region.

He said that insecurity of one country leads to insecurity of other states and spiral into an arm’s race.

Therefore, there is need to commence confidence building measures in diplomatic and strategic areas, he added.

“Insecurity of oil exporting Gulf countries is also a major concern for Indian Ocean. India-Pak mistrust is a major strategic concern, as both states are nuclear powers and both accuse each other of cross border terrorism. Large number of non-state actors in Indian Ocean is also an indication of maritime terrorism where terrorists are exploiting international borders and shipping.

We need rule based maritime order where states have freedom of navigation and they respect international organizations and treaties.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) lacks a regional maritime strategy,” he said.

Former Chairman of Karachi Port Trust, Vice Admiral (R) Ahmed Tasnim discussed “Water-A Key Factor for Pakistan’s Strategic Relations in the Region”.

“We need to first put our own house in order. We need to create awareness amongst the youth of Pakistan through our educational institutes. Mainstream media must broadcast programs based on economy of water and we must adopt a preemptive approach over the issue."

Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan Jononov Sherali expressed his views on “Water Resource Management: Implications for Future Direction”.

He said that humans misuse the natural resources. Tajikistan has great water resources and hydropower potential whereas water is a strategic resource of Tajikistan and is based on the basis of social and economic development and even national security, he added.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018