The jewel in the crown


The framers of the Indus Water Treaty saw Pakistan as a country at peace with itself, where, if one part of the country was deprived of the waters of the eastern rivers, there would be no resistance to it getting replacement water from the western rivers.

To this end a vast complex of dams, barrages and link canals was constructed, the jewel in the crown being the mega Tarbela dam on the Indus river. Indus, being the only western river with surplus flows from five big rivers, Kabul, Chitral, Swat, Haro and Sohan flowing into it. Obviously, the World Bank (WB) did not know about the dark undercurrents in Pakistan politics, where the words of one political leader could destroy their well-laid plans.

Denying the canals in north and south Punjab of the waters of the Indus through Tarbela dam is distorting the agricultural landscape of Pakistan and is doing no service to any one in Pakistan, least of all to Sindh.

After Mangla dam, World Bank planned to build Kalabagh dam. Ten Wapda engineers fought a running battle with their government insisting that the much bigger, much more complex and the more expensive Tarbela dam be built under the auspices of WB. They argued that the smaller, less complex, less expensive Kalabagh dam could later be built by Pakistan itself but not Tarbela dam. But for their patriotic stand, Kalabagh dam would have been a reality today.