Category Archives: Water

The weaponization of water by India

On August 19, 2019, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa issued flood alerts following the alarming increase of water levels in River Sutlej as India released over 150,000 to 200,000 cusecs of water into the river. In addition to this move, the PDMA warned that India had opened three out of five spillways of the Ladekh Dam. Amid increasingly strained relations between the neighbouring countries following the 14 February Pulwama Incident, the 26 February Balakot Airstrike by the Indian armed forces and, more recently, India’s Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status (article 370) on 5 August, this aggressive move which knowingly compromises on the rights and obligations of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 points toward a familiar, albeit perilous approach that is quickly becoming a favourite of the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government: the weaponization of water.  A profound political, ecological and geopolitical dilemma, the weaponization of natural resources has been at the crux of world history and global politics – its impacts vast and far-reaching.

With regard to water as the emerging commodity to weaponize, one of the most frequently cited statements concerning this burgeoning political phenomenon came from a former vice president of the World Bank, Dr. Ismail Serageldin: ‘Many of the wars of the 20th century were about oil but wars of the 21st century will be about water unless we change the way in which we manage it.’ The treaties and peace agreements that have maintained a degree of cooperation and offered a mechanism for information exchange (with a prominent example being the Indus Waters Treaty) have been a resounding point to ward off the threat of an all-out ‘water war.’ However, India’s consistent provocations categorically go against the very framework and mechanism for cooperation that defined the Indus Waters Treaty. Brokered by the World Bank, the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi by then president of Pakistan Ayub Khan and prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru on September 19, 1960. Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Discussion, Human Rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Water, World Bank

PIIA Conference on Climate Change

There is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth but the glaciers are melting and Pakistan is considered to be the seventh most vulnerable country in the world in respect of climate change …

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs is holding a Conference on Climate Change: An Existential Challenge for Pakistan on 3 and 4 May 2019. The full programme is available below. The agenda of the conference is divided into technical and non-technical sessions. Scholars and specialists from concerned organizations will discuss the life threatening challenges faced by Pakistan in detail. Across the world, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms have put an end to the long running debate on whether or not climate change is real. World leaders, climate experts, industrialists, and concerned citizens have realized that climate change is life threatening. Developing countries which are the least responsible for emitting greenhouse gases are caught in its trap. Overall, climate change is a challenge to Pakistan which is considered the seventh most vulnerable country.

It is faced with water shortages, melting glaciers, droughts, floods, sea-intrusion and heat waves which have substantially altered the pattern of life in both rural and urban areas. With a rapidly growing population, climate change is also threatening food security, along with agriculture ― the backbone of our economy ― in the arid and semi-arid regions. Considered as a non-traditional security threat, climate change poses a risk to peace and security of the country. Experts estimate that since the 1960s, the mean temperature in Pakistan have risen by 0.35°C at a steady average rate of 0.07°C per decade. There is an expected increase in temperature between 1.4°C and 3.7°C by the end of the 2060s. Droughts are estimated to occur every 16 years.

There is more glacial ice in Pakistan than anywhere on Earth but the glaciers are melting and over the last more than 30 years the snowline has receded by over 1.1 kilometers. By 2050, sea water intrusion will result in the loss of 0.79% of the Indus Delta population while 2.73% of the Delta area will be potentially lost. The energy sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Pakistan started off as a water rich country but 72 years later it is one of the most water stressed countries of the world.

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The Indus Waters Treaty and the Need to Broaden its Scope to Mitigate Climate Change and Global Warming

The implementation review of the Dhaka Declaration and the SAARC action plan on climate change and ensuring its timely execution under Article IX is a panacea to environmental degradation.

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) ratified in 1960 with the arbitration of the World Bank is under a lot of stress due to growing water scarcity in Pakistan and India. This treaty may be considered a successful treaty as it withstood three wars. Yet, with the passage of time, one of the most stressed basins in the world is facing new challenges videlicet climate change, environmental degradation and global warming. There is no mechanism present in treaty to address these challenges due to their negligible significance at that time. The water crisis is a big question mark in Indo-Pak relations. The growing water stress between the two countries is likely to deepen further with current global climate changes. As a result, IWT has come under a lot of pressure due to changes in hydrological, demographic, political and economic environment. This is raising testing and novel questions on the normative, functional and administrative viability of IWT. Pakistan as a lower riparian country is at the receiving end and is suffering from water stress as a water scarce country.

Indeed, the per capital water availability has decreased from about 5,600 cubic meters available in 1947 to 1,032 cubic meters in 2016. Pakistan may become water poor if current situation persists. Pakistan is considered to be one of the world’s driest countries with a single basin. Pakistan’s dependence on external water resources is 76% while that of India is 34%. Annual influx into Indus through Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) regulates Pakistani economy. The basin accounts for 25% of Gross Domestic Product, 47% of employment and more than 60% of annual national foreign exchange earnings. So, Indus basin has critical importance for domestic water needs. IWT allows Pakistan restrictive uses of water. Furthermore, its lower riparian status aggravates the situation. Pakistan strongly feels that India does not follow the technical parameters laid down in the treaty. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Climate Change, Courts, Discussion, Energy, India, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Water

New Framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

The EU is stretched to its outer limits in tackling issues thrown up by the economy, migration and terrorism. Tory politicians such as British prime minister David Cameron – who has been accused of extreme debauchery and profane and illegal behaviour by his former friend Michael Ashcroft in the upcoming biography Call Me Dave – are hell bent on “renegotiating” their country’s relationship with Europe. As we are already aware, the controversial and impending “in-out” referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU is a hotly debated matter. It is also very interesting to observe that the UK’s Electoral Commission, which is required by the Political Parties, Referendums and Elections Act 2000 to consider the precise wording of the referendum question and publish a statement of its views as to its intelligibility, has said that the question needs to be changed. Notably, in the European Union Referendum Bill as introduced into the UK parliament the proposed referendum question is: Should the UK remain a member of the EU?

The Electoral Commission suggests that the questions should be changed to: Should the UK remain a member of the EU or leave the EU? Answers: Remain a member of the EU – Leave the EU. But as we see in this post on the EU’s vision for gender equality and women’s empowerment, as an institution the Union is a very positive thing and it would be fair comment that people such as the European Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker and his colleagues do not like the Tory party’s stance on Europe. On 21 September 2015, the European Commission and the European External Action Service adopted a new framework for the EU’s activities on gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU’s external relations. The New framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations (2016-2020) (see press release and see here) aims to Continue reading

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The Latest From Our Journal

The Pakistan Horizon is the flagship journal of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) which we have published continuously since 1948. Research at the PIIA is published either in monographs or in Pakistan Horizon, the quarterly journal of the Institute. The first issue was published in March 1948. Since then, it has been published without a break; it contains articles, speeches, surveys of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations, book reviews, chronologies of important events and documents. To be sure, our journal is the oldest journal on International Relations in South Asia. Apart from adding to the learning on politics, Pakistan Horizon aims to combine rigorous analysis with a helpful approach to international issues. It thus features articles related to Pakistan’s foreign policy, regional and global issues, women’s concerns in international relations, IR theory, terrorism and security studies and emerging environmental concerns.

The contents of the latest issue, Volume 67 (Number 1 January 2014, Number 2 April 2014 and Numbers 3-4 July-October 2014),  of our journal are set out below (details of previous issues are available here). Please contact us on pakistanhorizon@hotmail.co.uk for more about subscription. As part of its public diplomacy programme, PIIA arranges roundtable sessions, lectures and seminars on a regular basis. These sessions have been addressed by world leaders, scholars and academics including: Presidents Ayub Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf; Prime Ministers Liaquat Ali Khan and Benazir Bhutto: Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, President Habib Bouraqiba, Prince Karim Aga Khan, Madame Sun Yat Sen, Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, Henry Kissinger, Rauf Denktash, Justice Philip C. Jessup, Lord Clement Attlee Continue reading

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Filed under BJP, Congress, Discussion, Energy, India, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, PIIA, Politics, Water

‘The Indus Commission hasn’t played an effective role’

Coverage from Dawn on our event on Friday, 20 March 2015.

The Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 did not envisage disputes and concerns arising in subsequent years. These include climate changes and groundwater management that were not mentioned when the treaty was being formulated. These thoughts were articulated by former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Shafqat Kakakhel and former managing director of Wapda Khalid Mohtadullah. They were delivering a talk on ‘The Indus Waters Treaty 1960: Issues and Concerns’ at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday. Before delving into the effectiveness of the treaty and challenges in its implementation, Mr Kakakhel, gave a comprehensive background of the treaty to which Mr Mohtadullah added his valuable input.

The treaty, consisting of around eight pages, had four main features, said Mr Kakakhel. “The first pertains to the division of the Indus and its five major tributaries. All the waters of the three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — shall be available to India and Pakistan shall receive for unrestricted use all those waters of the western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) which India is under obligation to let flow.” He emphasised that this was not a water-sharing agreement but a water-division agreement. Continue reading

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