A month after devastating floods first brought havoc to Pakistan, thousands of people are were still fleeing surging water. On August, 29 the
Indus broke its banks close to a historic city, Thatta, 75 miles south-east of Karachi. Officials said water had breached the river’s embankments close to Thatta. The estimated 20ft breach in the levee, caused flooding in the outskirts of the city. Most of the 200,000-strong population of Thatta has left the city and is camping out by the sides of roads or trying to move to cities out of the flood zone. wall cloud . similar sites Hundreds of families have taken shelter in an ancient Muslim graveyard and in a nearby Hindu temple.
The floods began in the mountainous north-west of the country four weeks ago with the onset of the monsoon rains. Ceaseless torrential downpours created flooding the likes of which had never been seen before. Then, as the water slowly began receding in the north-west, the floods moved southwards, enveloping large areas of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces
Under these catastrophic circumstances one is reminded of the diatribe by the fundamentalists of Pakistan with respect to the age-old river water dispute between India and Pakistan. The fundamentalists were claiming that India is bent upon strangling the lifeline of food production in Pakistan by building dams on the rivers of the Indus system and holding the much-required water from reaching the fields of Pakistan. What amounts to essentially a resource issue was blown out of all proportion by adding to it shades of religion, nationalism and ethnicity.
The day the Radcliffe award was made public in the year 1947, the waters of the Indus river system were divided between India and Pakistan and from being known as the agriculturally productive region of colonial Punjab, the region donned the mantle of two independent riparian states with India being the upper and Pakistan the lower riparian state. International law provides that both riparian states be given equal rights to the use of water that flows through their territories. However, due to the acrimony prevailing between the two neighbours, sharing of waters in the conventional manner was discarded in favour of a more precise and visible distribution of waters, worked out under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. It was decided that of the six major rivers in the system, the three western streams were to be left over for use by Pakistan while the three eastern streams namely Satluj, Beas and Ravi came under Indian control. Here it is noteworthy that not only did Pakistan in the person of West Punjab inherit almost the entire irrigation network built by the British, it also became successor to the use of eighty percent of the total waters of the Indus system for its irrigation programmes. The canal irrigation network built by the British in Western Punjab is known to be one of the best in the world
It was from this juncture that the two Punjab’s adopted diverse development trajectories. While Pakistani Punjab perpetuated the feudal economy linked to large land holdings and unproductive use of agricultural inputs resulting in large scale regional and social inequity, Indian Punjab went in for land consolidation and augmentation of canal network. Indian Punjab saw the fruition of the Green Revolution and an era of all round prosperity. Pakistan Punjab on the other hand remained steep in exploitative and non-productive agricultural practices, where power and decision-making rested in the hands of the landed few. Punjabis in Pakistan rose to be the most influential of all ethnic groups with a particularly strong presence in the Pakistani Army. It followed that the Pakistan Army functioned with the Punjabi interest at the core of all decisions whether it be the colonisation and settlement of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or the Baltistan area and the elimination of Shia muslims. The resultant narrow minded and parochial policies that were followed by successive Pakistani regimes have led to an abject failure in harnessing the water of River Indus and this in turn has led to the present devastation
Whereas India is keen on moving ahead on the course of larger good, Pakistan is closing its eyes and refusing to come to terms with emerging world realities, now it is playing politics with the issue of the aid that Indiana has offered to overcome this great calamity. It is a fact that fanatic rhetoric can fan the flames of passion only for a limited span of time; ultimately people long for peace and development. Sooner or later the state of Pakistan will also have to provide its citizens with the facilities that their neighbours across the border are enjoying. web security If it is unable to deliver, the state is doomed to perish. Pakistan’s dilemma today is that though it recognises the need for such developmental inputs, it lacks the wherewithal to deliver the same.
If such be the case, it would be in the interest of the two nations as well as the entire region that Pakistan seeks India’s help in procuring much needed power and other infrastructural inputs rather than try to block whatever comfort and prosperity may lie in store for the people of Kashmir, through their association with India. If however Pakistan does not find itself capable of seeking India’s help, it should at least not come in the way of the Kashmiri good, a cause that it is ostensibly espousing for all to see.