Wake Up Pakistan, Iwt 1960 was an Illusion

by Suleman Najib Khan 


The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed on 19 September, 1960 was supposed to be a path to peaceful co-operation, good neighborliness and progress. Tragically, we observe that Indian Water Aggression (since 1947) has continued with undiminished intensity. They only toned down their rhetoric after the Treaty but never really abandoned their objective; to steal the waters of the Indus basin till the state of Pakistan, as existing today, would collapse economically. India does not respect any International Water Law, or the rights of a lower riparian. She has virtually stolen the waters of the Chenab (after the treaty). Chenab is one of the three Western rivers flowing through Indian held Kashmir (IHK).

For the Indians, IWT only meant: India Wants Time. Yes, the trusting and simple people of Pakistan actually trusted them. Now, Mr. Narendra Modi has gone 100% back to the immoral and inhuman hydro-politics of 1948. It may not be forgotten that the Pakistani people lost millions of their brethren during the mass migration in the partition of British India. Pakistan became independent on 14th August 1947, but alas only in name within the Indian mindset. The imperial ruler had ensured that the three Eastern tributaries of the Indus Basin (River Ravi, River Sutlej and River Beas) flowing through Indian Punjab are controlled by the upper riparian. Madhupur Headworks on the Ravi River and Ferozpur Headworks on the Sutlej/ Beas combined flow were delivered to India through the blatant "Radcliffe Award" that partitioned British India. A perfectly diabolical and cynical India agreed to send a negotiation team in 1952 on the invitation of President Truman. The World Bank was tasked to be the 'facilitator' and the venue was Washington D.C. The next eight years saw negotiations and talks between Indian and Pakistan delegates. The Indian side was led by Mr. N. D. Gulhati, a brilliant hydro-engineer while the Pakistan side was led by an eminent but non technical, bureaucrat Mr. G Mueenuddin. Whatever the draft of the Treaty conceded in the main text comprising of 12 Articles, it was cleverly clouded & neutralized in the 8 Annexures to these Articles and complex Appendices to these Annexures. What the right-hand conceded, the Indians took back via the left hand using these Annexures. The Treaty draft was being negotiated by an upper riparian state with a lower riparian state, over the waters of the sole river basin of the lower riparian. Territorial reality gave a massive advantage to India. They got 100% waters of the three eastern rivers.

An eminent Engineer Sardar Mohammad Tariq, former Member Water of WAPDA, writes that by allocating 75% of the Indus Basin Waters to Pakistan, which had 90% of the irrigated land, there was a blatant violation of the principle of "appreciable harm". A defining statute of the International Law Commission. Let us remember that India was allowed to take the entire flow of the three eastern rivers viz Ravi, Sutlej and Beas. These were compelling reasons for the World Bank's President, Mr. W.A.B. Iliff, who was in Karachi on the eve of the Treaty signing (19 Sep, 1960) to advise President

F.M. Ayub Khan indicated that Pakistan may not sign, if there were other options available to end the Indian military occupation of IHK! The 1965 war was a little late & inconclusive. Water and its vitally strategic importance for Pakistan is not understood & appreciated by our nation in all its economic dimensions. The nation is flying blind with respect to its water endowment.

India’s first P.M. Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru said “dams are the temples of modern India”. He may not have ordered these temples to be built on Pakistan waters however as a founding father of independent India and with military annexation of Jammu and Kashmir, he did create conditions for her hydro aggression. Our nation underestimated the reach of Pakistan’s fifth column. Surely the Indians influenced a section of our bureaucracy and regional politicians through their clearly identified agents. This ongoing tragedy cannot be reversed without a gigantic step. Firstly, the realization that we have as a nation being the victim of a massive conspiracy with respect to our hydro endowment and in tandem, the attrition of all our hydro based economic activities. The military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of partition was the start of the Indian Water Aggression, in connivance and with full support of the imperial power. In brief, the IWA strategy was not fully comprehended by our intelligentsia and the issue was and remains clouded by religious over tones. Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s warning was not understood, just as the nation ignored his caution note on the activities of our fifth column.

Secondly, the periodic stage wise progress of the IWA strategy. The period 1947–1960 was the consolidation of the military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the implementation of the inhuman and unprecedented policy of taking the entire flow of the three Punjab Rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) also called the Eastern Rivers. The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) that was signed on 19 Sep 1960 was a terrible tragedy for West Pakistan, being acceptable by them only under great stress. Of the 33MAF average annual flow, the historic share of West Pakistan was 27MAF, which reduced to about 26MAF at the time of the treaty. Effectively, Pakistan had lost close to 20% of its surface flows till eternity. Bureaucrat Mr. G. Mueenuddin, Pakistan’s head of the Indus Waters Delegation to Washington DC was no match for India’s hydro expert Mr. N. D. Gulhati. In the Treaty draft, India also laid the basis for the subsequent controversies around semantics and interpretation. The real meaning of 'let flow', 'non-consumptive', and 'the then' phrases in the Treaty were all Indian manipulations, that they later misuse.

The Indian delegation at Bangalore during the roundtable of February, 2014 also tried to deny that there is serious climate change and global warming leading to glacier retreat and consequential additional flows in the Indus Basin. Dr. Shakil Ramshoo of the Srinagar University was constantly trying to convince our delegates that global warming is a myth. It was therefore, nature's revenge that in late summer 2014, Srinagar was severely flooded. How could India deny that under their NRL they are constructing 47,000km of canals linking their 25 major and 103 sub-basins to cater for the greater flows due to global warming (and the logical glacier retreat). It may be understood that India has also decided to construct a dam on the Kabul River and is willing to finance the Afghans. Construction of the dam on the Kabul River is planned within the next few years and the reservoir that will be created would be far larger than the needs of Afghanistan’s agriculture.

The underground aquifers have clearly emerged as the next main target for the Indian Water Aggression. I had prepared a case for environmental flows in the Ravi and Sutlej Rivers to be taken up at Bangalore during my second encounter in India. The roundtable under track-II was held in Bangalore on 16 and 17 February, 2014. Instead, India's main thrust was to justify pumping of underground water far beyond the share of the western rivers/ waters permitted for Jammu and Kashmir's local population. It was a diabolical and cruel statement to argue that only the rivers were divided in 1960. In the words of Ramaswamy Iyer, the leader of the Indian delegation, “Mr. Khan note clearly, there were two partitions of India; in 1947 the land was divided and in 1960 the rivers were divided!” Then I reacted with the words: “This is nonsense Ramaswamy Sahib. The Ground Water (GW) is a part of the river valley. The Treaty is called Indus Waters Treaty and not Indus Rivers Treaty. Therefore, no attempt should be made to take our ground water beyond the limits given for all waters in the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.”

He retorted that India has still to build its permanent storages, to which I responded that at any given time, India is already stopping more waters than is permissible under the Treaty. Since the flow of data of the Western rivers from India is unreliable (and never received within the time frame of the IWT 1960), we Pakistanis are reasonably convinced that India has found ways and means to siphon it to Northern India .

Similarly the 28,000MW India will generate from over 171 projects (run of river HPP or reservoirs) on these western rivers is at least ten times the needs of the local population of IHK.

Now, the following steps are urgently needed to be taken by our nation:

i)             We have literally lost most of the waters of the Chenab River, as a result of post Treaty Indian Water Aggression. Pakistan now has to struggle harder to save the flows of the other Western rivers; Indus Main and the Jhelum. The nation has to wake up and take note of this life threatening situation. India will stoop to any inhuman level to damage Pakistan's economy while profiting from our waters. All regional lobbies working against the Indus Cascade are to be neutralized; academically and scientifically. We have not built a large dam since Tarbela was effectively completed in 1974. Indians built over 4,600 dams, including Bhakra on the Sutlej, a 225m straight gravity dam, the highest in the world, as well as the controversial Narmada.

ii)            In 1960, the Science of Ecology was not officially recognized by the UNO. It was after the Helsinki Accord of 1967 that Ecology and Environmental sciences received universal sanction. That is the compelling reason for demanding environmental flows in the Ravi and Sutlej at the Bangalore roundtable. The sharp retort by Ramaswamy Iyer is quoted in the preceding paragraphs. In brief, the Pakistani nation has to take note of this ominous Indian position and manipulations of the IWT 1960 text. The people of Pakistan are suffering horrendous health issues due to the willful pollution of its waters. In fact, by taking away the total flows of the rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Beas, India has inflicted an ecological and bacteriological war on our people. Our over reliance on GW is a terrible ongoing tragedy. In addition to heavy metals and arsenic, the aquifers has suffered irreversible bacteriological contamination.

                Compounding our failure to treat and recycle wastewater (agriculture run-off, industrial effluents and municipal sewage). Presently, there are over 20 million Pakistani suffering from hepatitis and resultant cancers. The world has to be made aware of this great calamity. First we have to understand it. Falling GW levels is proof that our aquifers are not a renewable resource. They need adequate recharge. This is something that our anti-dam lobbies need to understand.

iii)           The situation of the environment is equally serious. By shutting off the three Eastern Rivers, and controlling the flows of the three Western rivers flowing through IHK, India creates drought like conditions during sowing seasons. The committed +55000 cusecs minimum flow during the entire flood season (21 June to 31 Aug) at Marala, where Chenab enters Pakistan, has not been seen for over 20 years. During the monsoon/ flood season we witness that India can suddenly induce serious flooding in the agricultural belts of Punjab and Sindh. This proves that she has enormous storage in IHK, UP and Eastern Punjab. Therefore, Pakistan has to make the world realize that India also carries out environmental degradation of the Pakistani Nation's economy. .

iv)           Construction of large dams was made controversial after the Bangladesh war through India's clearly indentified lobbyists working in Pakistan (as anti-dam pressure groups). They take a different position in the North West, where the anti-partition Bacha Khan group of Wali Bagh increased their activities against building of the critical Kala Bagh Dam/ Kala Bagh Dam Project (KBD/ KDP) by propagating dangers of the flooding of Nowshera town, due to the proposed down-stream KBD/KDP. This group is unable to prove since the last 45 years how a down-steam dam with a maximum conservation level of the reservoir at 915 feet (above sea level) could create water-logging or flooding in areas of KP province, which are much higher than 915 feet above sea level?

                We know Bacha Khan is remembered by his followers and Indians as the "Frontier Gandhi". To this day his party men call themselves "Congressites" associating themselves with the Congress Party of India that achieved independence in 1947.

                In contrast, the Sindh anti-dam lobby in the south is a group of feudals (Waderas) who lay claim to all waters of the Indus Basin. They are happy to practice flood irrigation (sailaba) around the banks of the Indus River. They are oblivious to the water waste, and Sindh's agriculture generally uses about five times per acre as compared to agriculture in Pakistan Punjab. They do not realize that flood irrigation (sailaba) is highly wasteful and leads to water logging. This neurosis in Sindh is politically driven by the Wadera Group. These pseudo political lobbies need to be neutralized by a truthful and extensive campaign within the Sindhi masses. According to Dr. Hon. Shams ul Mulk, these lobbies inside Pakistan are following an "Indian agenda". 

v)            KBD/ KDP is vital for flood control in the Indus Basin in Central Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Floods in rivers Kabul, Swat, Soan and Kohat Koi can only be controlled by the KBD/ KDP reservoir. KBD/ KDP is the only point on the Indus able to provide a gravity flow canal for KP. DBD can never be a replacement for KBD/ KDP. In fact, DBD must be made into a lower and safer structure. Instead of a dam going to 3,900 ft asl (river bed is at 3,000 ft asl) it must have a crest level of about 3,660 ft asl. The upstream Raikot HPP (1800 MW) becomes possible when DBD's height is reduced inline with the 1987 study. Its cost reduces to about half. The time to build it also reduces dramatically. Remember all basic construction materials, including sand have to be transported to site. Equally important to note, a lower height will allow a stronger CFRD arch dam instead of the proposed RCC light structure with a PVC membrane, for seepage control.

vi)           Pakistan has to negate the repeated declaration by India (consented inadvertently by several of our leaders) that Pakistan's Northern Areas, Gilgit and Baltistan, are a part of Greater Kashmir. She does this to block or delay any infrastructure work including major hydro projects on the Indus Main. She cleverly misuses the policy of the World Bank which prohibits multi-lateral financing for infrastructure projects in the so-called "Greater Kashmir" disputed region. Pakistan must clear this misconception and travesty; convince the multi-laterals that its Northern Areas were indeed administered by Srinagar during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. However, the Northern Areas are inhabited by the Balti-civilization having no linguistic and ethnic similarity with the Kashmiri people. 



A 69 year history of Indian Water Aggression, is genocide in slow motion. Let us unite in thought and action to salvage the remaining waters of the Indus Basin for the common good of our children and coming generations. Let one organization within the country speak about Kashmir and the Indus Basin endowment. This national organization must be able to again map the seriously sick GW resource (it was last done in 1980). It must provide us practical solutions for its recharge. It must breathe life into the PCRWR. Strengthen the vital PCIW organization (and WAPDA as well). It must map our hydrology in real time. It must be 100% trusted by all patriots in Pakistan. Let us call it CIBSA (Commission for Indus Basin Strategic Analysis); our response to the ICID and ICIW.


Our economy in 30 years has taken a hit of nearly a trillion USD equivalent due to these anti-dam lobbies. The losses are snowballing and the hemorrhage has to be stopped. No more illusions. Let us rise to the challenge belatedly and build the Indus Cascade with its 29, 870 MW hydro power capacity translating into 126,000 GWh of electrical energy (which is more than the total electric energy generated in Pakistan during 2015). This will be a program of about 25 years to keep our nation moving ahead with low cost hydro energy, additional irrigation water and more potable water.