I have no problem in admitting that I was confused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment about maintaining the Indus Waters treaty despite the Uri terror attacks. In that context the remark about blood and water not flowing together did not make sense.
But after reading a rather telling Firstpost article by Srinivas Prasad on the subsequent steps being taken with reference to three hydro-electrical projects and India’s refusal to attend any talks on the Indus Water Commission, my perspective changed. Maybe, this way it's more delightfully diabolical and though it may take a little time, it has the potential to hurt.
Hurt so much in the pocket that Pakistan economist and strategist as well as Foreign Affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz has said Indian cannot unilaterally ‘separate’ itself from this bi-lateral treaty.
Say that again? It can’t? Oh, really? Why not? What on earth are you going to do? Go to the International Court of Justice and the Security Council?
As far as the first is concerned knock yourself out, it has the fear quotient of a little bug.
And about the UN Security Council, two of its five members are currently actively involved against each other in destroying a nation called Syria so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Sartaj now waffles on to say that Pakistan will take any revocation of this treaty as an act of war.
That’s fine by India too, seeing as how we have a list of actions that would prompt us to be seen as provocations to war. The next logical step is, of course, to drop the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status granted to Pakistan. It is a no brainer and simply a cardboard crown that can be discarded with casual indifference by New Delhi.
Financial loss and an endangered harvest combined with double the stress from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Balochistan and a dried riverbed would wreck the country as surely as an all-out war.
For the first time there is a shrill note creeping into Pakistan media and its government spokespersons. They must have also read the same paper by Clive Judge who wrote in 2013 that World War-III will be fought over water.
"Around the world, the Institute has fingered more than twenty conflicts and potential conflicts concerning division of river flows between upstream and downstream users. These range from tensions within China over the Yangtze to discord between Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Guinea over the Niger and between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey over the Tigris and Euphrates. Even the United States is on the list: The United States and Mexico have long squabbled over the Rio Grande, Rio Bravo, Rio Conchos, and Colorado systems, all of which rise in the United States but are crucial to northern Mexico."
Pakistan know that India has the upper hand where this precious commodity is concerned. With 70 percent of the water in the world used for agriculture, the allocation of river waters and their tributaries are the killing fields of tomorrow. If India is ready for the long term and continues to perpetuate its plan to exert the pressure drop by drop (literally) even as it denies it officially, it will place Pakistan in a very tenuous position. Because even if it goes into a war it cannot win the water which isn’t flowing.
Since 1960, when Nehru obligingly okayed the Indus Waters Treaty with Ayub Khan, India has never weaponised it so it wasn’t factored into Pakistan’s scheme of things.
Today, it has. And it is a strident wake up call.