- Behind abrogating Article 370 is a hunger for water
By: Muhammad Sohail Ahmed
In 1944, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah while addressing the students of Muslim Aligarh University, said that Pakistan came into existence the moment the first Hindu embraced Islam, as Muslim nationhood lies in the ‘Kalima’ (there is no God but One) and not on the basis of region or ethnicity. In 1954 India had illegally annexed Kashmir to its territory, but to hoodwink the world community, it introduced Article 370 in its Constitution, thereby claiming that it had given autonomy to the Kashmiris. This clause acknowledges special status in terms of autonomy to the locals to formulate laws of the state. In the subsequent years, the Indian leadership continued to vow that the right of self-determination in the light of UN Security Council resolution will be given to the Muslims of Kashmir, (as done by the other federating units of the subcontinent). Despite religious difference, the Indian establishment wanted water of the rivers for irrigating Rajasthan desert. Indira Gandhi Canal, a 678-km water canal was therefore built in 1958-1963. The canal runs from North East of Ravi to the south-west along the Pakistan India border. This diversion of water not only dried up the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas rivers and created a drought-like situation in southern Punjab. The Indus Basin Waters Treaty was also for this purpose.
Pakistan must exercise all options including, diplomatic, political, financial, legal and military to safeguard its interest
India obtained loans from world financial institutions to supposedly turn its desert to green pastures. The loan obtained from world financial institutions was to be paid from the income of ‘desert converted to green pastures harvest’. The expertise of making a canal in desert is quite challenging as in Sudan from river Nile. particularly, the problem of seepage of water in the desert terrain continues to pose challenge as India has recently obtained loan of $250 million from ADB and $400 million from Russia to improve the water management and water transportation through the Indira canal.
Over the last 65 years the water continues to be wasted and the objective of Indian constitutional amendment is to drain water from Jhelum and Chenab, which is a clear violation of the IWT. Pakistan has always upheld the UN resolutions on Kashmir, as article 257 of its Constitution states, “when the people of state of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that state shall be determined by the wishes of that state”. Although it does not include the states of Hyderabad Deccan, Junagarh, Manawadar, which had opted to join Pakistan and the Indian army forcefully occupied them. Provision of the demand of these states needs to be made part of Pakistan’s constitution.
Similarly, Gurdaspur, being a Muslim majority region was wrongly annexed to India, and this needs to be rectified. With the unending appetite for resources such as water, dams, rivers, electricity and green pastures, fuelled with the Indian hegemonic designs, efforts to build maximum dams will increase day by day. One of the interesting aspects is that India is obtaining loans from international monetary agencies like the World Bank and the IMF, for diverting the water of these rivers. The external debt of India stands at a staggering amount of $521.3 billion, as on 31 December 2018 and increases at 2.6 percent per annum.
Expensive loans on cost-prohibitive terms, implemented illegally while annoying neighbouring countries and creating disenchantment among the masses, is a unique feature of the Indian establishment and those politicians who do not possess financial, legal or professional credentials. Whether India can survive or not without Kashmir is clear. The last 72 years analysis suggests that India can survive only without Kashmir. However, Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah called Kashmir the jugular vein of Pakistan, hence Kashmir remains the unfinished agenda of independence of Pakistan. Diverting all the rivers flowing through Indian-occupied Kashmir may deprive Pakistan of the mandatory water reservoirs. It will not only cause environmental degradation but will turn into a calamity depriving the Pakistani people of grain, rice and all crops.
What if Pakistan decides to launch strikes against illegally constructed dams to get water supply restored? What if a nation devoid of food launches weapons of appropriate destructive power, closes Banehal Tunnel to disconnect India from Kashmir for good? What if the people of Kashmiris drive out the Indian security forces like the masses did from the Bastille during the French Revolution?
What if an environment-friendly government of Pakistan scraps the IWT to restore imbalance? How will the Indian govt return the billions of dollars it has borrowed with the Indira canal drained out for want of water?
It is also necessary to examine article 103 of the UN Charter which states, “in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present charter and their obligations under any other international agreement their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail”. If Indian govt thinks that with revoking Article 370, it can enter into a bilateral agreement for any project in Indian Occupied Kashmir, it is mistaken due to Article 103 of the UN Charter. It can, therefore, be concluded that the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A are aimed to destroy Pakistan and kill its population.
Pakistan must exercise all options including, diplomatic, political, financial, legal and military to safeguard its interest. The government of Pakistan should announce support for establishing a government of Kashmir in exile. The following points merit consideration for presenting a case by Pakistan:(a) Sanctions on India for violation of the UN charter by revoking Article 370 and declaring a disputed territory as its own. (b) All international tenders in Indian occupied Kashmir should be challenged in the ICJ in the light of art 370/35 of Indian constitution read in conjunction with art 103 of UN Charter. (c) Demand return of Junagarh, Manawadar and Hyderabad to Pakistan.
The writer is a retired commodore of the Pakistan Navy.