Inter-provincial battles over water in Pakistan threatening to snowball into a full-blown civil war


Islamabad,The inter-provincial battles over distribution of the natural resource in Pakistan is threatening to snowball into a full-blown civil war with Punjab getting the lion’s share of Indus waters while Sindh and Balochistan being denied their rightful share of Indus waters. At a time when Sindh, Balochistan and even southern parts of Punjab are battling serious water shortages due to failed rains, Islamabad is going ahead with Chashma-Jhelum and Taunsa-Pinjad link canals projects.
Sindh puts its annual losses at one million-acre feet and opposed Chashma-Jhelum project tooth-and-nail and has even sought closing of the Taunsa-Pinjad canal. But Punjab has Islamabad’s blessings which enables it to draw more water from the Indus and meet its target of producing 20 million tonnes of wheat.
Islamabad is using political leaders, Army and even jihadi groups to carry out propaganda blaming the 50-60 dams built by India for the scarce water flow to divert attention from Punjab’s sinister moves to divert Sindh and Balochistan’s share of Indus waters. The basic source of irrigation for Pakistan agriculture is the Indus River. Water resources are becoming shorter due to the irregular flow of water in the Indus River. To overcome the problem of water shortage and to meet the water demands of rising populations, the Punjab and the federal governments are constructing more dams. On the contrary, the Sindh holds the point that the construction of dams would deprive them of their due shares. There has been a distrust regarding water sharing between the two provinces.
Sindh has rivalry with Punjab as the former receives water from lower riparian and Punjab receives larger share of water as being enjoying the position of upstream. Sindh also blames Punjab as a cause of desertification, water logging, salinity, famine, certain kind of diseases, and moreover electricity load shedding in Sindh is also because the Punjab bodies being an upper riparian controls the water of Sindh and therefore less crops are grown in Sindh due to diversion of Indus river.
To step up the pressure through religious forums, 170 Alims from across Sindh have issued a fatwa against the proposed hydro-power project along the Chashma-Jhelum link, calling it anti-Sharia. While clarifying that it was against Sharia to take water without the consent of those who needed it the most, the Alims threatened that that the country would “shake at its roots if the provinces were denied their rights.”
Islamabad is trying to divert the attention by attacking India’s Kishenganga project in Kashmir. Pakistanis, who don’t seem to be very sure that this project will hamper the flow of water to what River Neelum on their side, have repeatedly failed to convince the World Bank experts of the justification of their objections to the project’s design.