Masood Khan stresses need to prepare comprehensive water policy

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Islamabad: (Parliament Times) President Masood Khan said that India is not an upper riparian state, it is an occupier of the people, waters and land of one part of Jammu and Kashmir and therefore calls itself an upper riparian.
He made these remarks while speaking at the book launch ceremony of the book Hydro-Diplomacy: Preventing Water War Between Nuclear-Armed Pakistan and India authored by Ashfaq Mahmood, former federal secretary, Water and Power, and published by IPS Press – the publishing arm of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad.
President Masood Khan said that the author has identified the key ingredients for the success of hydro-diplomacy, which he said were building mutual trust, third-party intercession, the commitment of the leadership and expert knowledge-based approach.
The President said that the book also identifies the Indus Water Treaty’s many loopholes and limitations. The limitations, he said, including groundwater, desertification, ecological impact, water quality, and flora and fauna, which in the long run has led to numerous problem.
President Khan said that the issue of water scarcity and a shortage is a reality that does not exclusively pertain to the shortfalls of the IWT. He said that Pakistan is a water scarce country and the situation will worsen till 2025 if drastic steps are not taken.
The President informed that the key issue of tension between Pakistan and India, is Kashmir. Till date, he said, India has not accepted the creation of Pakistan and the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to be a part of Pakistan. He said that for India; Kashmir and water are interlinked.
President AJK pointed out that, firstly, India is obsessed in keeping all its issues with Pakistan within the bilateral realm and keep away from third-party arbitration or intercession. Secondly, use dilatory tactics by restricting access to data and refusing to engage in any dialogue. Thirdly, he said India has always used the tensions between India and Pakistan as a smokescreen to complete their dams; like they completed Baglihar during the tensions experienced in the early 2000s. Lastly, he said that Indian lobby with neutral experts by either directly approaching them or the countries from which they originate.
President Masood Khan said that India despite its efforts to pit the people of Kashmir against Pakistan; Kashmiris are not deluded and have not been influenced by the Indian tactics. India, he said, has tried to manipulate Kashmiris into thinking that Pakistan’s just objections against the building of dams is an attempt towards denying them from reaping the benefits of such projects.
He also underscored the need for preparing a comprehensive water policy having an external domain encompassing India and other neighbours, as well as internal domain stressing on water conservation, the building of dams, investment in the environment and the strategies to deal with the challenges of climate change.
The President expressed hope that due to Pakistan’s strategic parity with India and its display of immense restraint will not allow for any escalation. He urged that it would be prudent for both the countries to de-link war and water and the nuclear capabilities of the neighbouring countries. He said that water is a natural resource which needs to be equitably distributed.
The event was also addressed by Ambassador (r) Shafqat Kakakhel, Mirza Hamid Hasan, former secretary, Water and Power and the chairman of IPS’ steering committee on Water, Energy & Climate Change, DG-IPS Khalid Rahman and the author Ashfaq Mahmood. The book launch was attended by senior bureaucrats, academics, scholars, and researchers.

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