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Deferred peace... By Asha

06 March, 2013

The advocate of 'peace' has once again snubbed the peaceful approach of talks and negotiations to resolve disputes as talks between Pakistan and India on water disputes, scheduled to be held in Lahore have been postponed. The water secretaries of the two countries were to meet on January 28-29 to discuss the dispute over Wullar Barrage, also referred to as Tulbul Navigational Project. However India intimated that Secretary Water Resources Dhruba Bijaya Singh would not be able to reach Islamabad.

Pakistan alleges that since the project is on the Jhelum River itself, it is in violation of the Indus Water Treaty 1960. Pakistan believes that Wullar barrage can be used as a geo-strategic weapon, potential to disrupt the triple canal project of Pakistan (upper Jhelum, upper Chenab, Lower Bari Doab canals), to badly affect the Neelum-Jehlum hydropower project, would affect agriculture in Azad Kashmir, would dry 5.6 million acres of land of Punjab's cultivable land, would dry Mangla dam and would result in loadshedding if Pakistan does not get enough water to run its turbines.

India started the Wullar barrage project quietly in 1985 and Pakistan got information about this project in 1987. Pakistan raised objection and the work was suspended which has not been resumed so far. Pakistan asserted that the real agenda behind this project is to make a man-made lake that would store 324,000 acre-feet of water and will be used to run the Lower Jhelum Hydroelectric Plant and Uri Hydroelectric Plant on the Indian side of the Line of Control. This shows the Indian thirst for water.

It is believed that India called off the Secretary-level talks with Pakistan due to the tension at Line of Control. India on one hand is violating the treaty and on the other hand is resisting talks. Delhi has also rejected the Pakistani proposal for calling investigation of LoC violations by UN Military Observers Group. Moreover India has also suspended the on-arrival visa facility for senior citizens as Manmohan Singh said it would no longer be 'business as usual' with Pakistan. The whole scenario utterly speaks that India is pushing back the peace process on every front and fueling tension between the two states to set peace on fire!

ASHA FAROOQ KHAN
Islamabad

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