War or Peace on the Indus?

By John Briscoe

Anyone foolish enough to write on war or peace in the Indus needs to first banish a set of immediate suspicions. I am neither Indian nor Pakistani. I am a South African who has worked on water issues in the subcontinent for 35 years and who has lived in Bangladesh (in the 1970s) and Delhi (in the 2000s). In 2006 I published, with fine Indian colleagues, an Oxford University Press book titled India’s Water Economy: Facing a Turbulent Future and, with fine Pakistani colleagues, one titled Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry.

I was the Senior Water Advisor for the World Bank who dealt with the appointment of the Neutral Expert on the Baglihar case. My last assignment at the World Bank (relevant, as described later) was as Country Director for Brazil. I am now a mere university professor, and speak in the name of no one but myself.
I have deep affection for the people of both India and Pakistan, and am dismayed by what I see as a looming train wreck on the Indus, with disastrous consequences for both countries. I will outline why there is no objective conflict of interests between the countries over the waters of the Indus Basin, make some observations of the need for a change in public discourse, and suggest how the drivers of the train can put on the brakes before it is too late.

Is there an inherent conflict between India and Pakistan?

The simple answer is no. The Indus Waters Treaty allocates the water of the three western rivers to Pakistan, but allows India to tap the considerable hydropower potential of the Chenab and Jhelum before the rivers enter Pakistan.

The qualification is that this use of hydropower is not to affect either the quantity of water reaching Pakistan or to interfere with the natural timing of those flows. Since hydropower does not consume water, the only issue is timing. And timing is a very big issue, because agriculture in the Pakistani plains depends not only on how much water comes, but that it comes in critical periods during the planting season. The reality is that India could tap virtually all of the available power without negatively affecting the timing of flows to which Pakistan is entitled.

Is the Indus Treaty a stable basis for cooperation?

If Pakistan and India had normal, trustful relations, there would be a mutually-verified monitoring process which would assure that there is no change in the flows going into Pakistan. (In an even more ideal world, India could increase low-flows during the critical planting season, with significant benefit to Pakistani farmers and with very small impacts on power generation in India.) Because the relationship was not normal when the treaty was negotiated, Pakistan would agree only if limitations on India’s capacity to manipulate the timing of flows was hardwired into the treaty. This was done by limiting the amount of “live storage” (the storage that matters for changing the timing of flows) in each and every hydropower dam that India would construct on the two rivers.

While this made sense given knowledge in 1960, over time it became clear that this restriction gave rise to a major problem. The physical restrictions meant that gates for flushing silt out of the dams could not be built, thus ensuring that any dam in India would rapidly fill with the silt pouring off the young Himalayas.

This was a critical issue at stake in the Baglihar case. Pakistan (reasonably) said that the gates being installed were in violation of the specifications of the treaty. India (equally reasonably) argued that it would be wrong to build a dam knowing it would soon fill with silt. The finding of the Neutral Expert was essentially a reinterpretation of the Treaty, saying that the physical limitations no longer made sense. While the finding was reasonable in the case of Baglihar, it left Pakistan without the mechanism – limited live storage – which was its only (albeit weak) protection against upstream manipulation of flows in India. This vulnerability was driven home when India chose to fill Baglihar exactly at the time when it would impose maximum harm on farmers in downstream Pakistan.

If Baglihar was the only dam being built by India on the Chenab and Jhelum, this would be a limited problem. But following Baglihar is a veritable caravan of Indian projects – Kishanganga, Sawalkot, Pakuldul, Bursar, Dal Huste, Gyspa… The cumulative live storage will be large, giving India an unquestioned capacity to have major impact on the timing of flows into Pakistan. (Using Baglihar as a reference, simple back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that once it has constructed all of the planned hydropower plants on the Chenab, India will have an ability to effect major damage on Pakistan. First, there is the one-time effect of filling the new dams. If done during the wet season this would have little effect on Pakistan. But if done during the critical low-flow period, there would be a large one-time effect (as was the case when India filled Baglihar). Second, there is the permanent threat which would be a consequence of substantial cumulative live storage which could store about one month’s worth of low-season flow on the Chenab. If, God forbid, India so chose, it could use this cumulative live storage to impose major reductions on water availability in Pakistan during the critical planting season.

Views on “the water problem” from both sides of the border and the role of the press

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India’s views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, “when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir — the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say.”

This apparently remains the case. In the context of the recent talks between India and Pakistan I read, in Boston, the electronic reports on the disagreement about “the water issue” in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Economic Times. Taken together, these reports make astounding reading. Not only was the message the same in each case (“no real issue, just Pakistani shenanigans”), but the arguments were the same, the numbers were the same and the phrases were the same. And in all cases the source was “analysts” and “experts” — in not one case was the reader informed that this was reporting an official position of the Government of India.

Equally depressing is my repeated experience – most recently at a major international meeting of strategic security institutions in Delhi – that even the most liberal and enlightened of Indian analysts (many of whom are friends who I greatly respect) seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the great vulnerability and legitimate concern of Pakistan (which is obvious and objective to an outsider).

A way forward

This is a very uneven playing field. The regional hegemon is the upper riparian and has all the cards in its hands. This asymmetry means that it is India that is driving the train, and that change must start in India. In my view, four things need to be done.

First, there must be some courageous and open-minded Indians – in government or out – who will stand up and explain to the public why this is not just an issue for Pakistan, but why it is an existential issue for Pakistan.

Second, there must be leadership from the Government of India. Here I am struck by the stark difference between the behaviour of India and that of its fellow BRIC – Brazil, the regional hegemon in Latin America.

Brazil and Paraguay have a binding agreement on their rights and responsibilities on the massive Itaipu Binacional Hydropower Project. The proceeds, which are of enormous importance to small Paraguay, played a politicised, polemical anti-Brazilian part in the recent presidential election in Paraguay. Similarly, Brazil’s and Bolivia’s binding agreement on gas also became part of an anti-Brazil presidential campaign theme.

The public and press in Brazil bayed for blood and insisted that Bolivia and Paraguay be made to pay. So what did President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva do? “Look,” he said to his irate countrymen, “these are poor countries, and these are huge issues for them. They are our brothers. Yes, we are in our legal rights to be harsh with them, but we are going to show understanding and generosity, and so I am unilaterally doubling (in the case of Paraguay) and tripling (in the case of Bolivia) the payments we make to them. Brazil is a big country and a relatively rich one, so this will do a lot for them and won’t harm us much.” India could, and should, in my view, similarly make the effort to see it from its neighbour’s point of view, and should show the generosity of spirit which is an integral part of being a truly great power and good neighbour.

Third, this should translate into an invitation to Pakistan to explore ways in which the principles of the Indus Waters Treaty could be respected, while providing a win for Pakistan (assurance on their flows) and a win for India (reducing the chronic legal uncertainty which vexes every Indian project on the Chenab or Jhelum). With good will there are multiple ways in which the treaty could be maintained but reinterpreted so that both countries could win.

Fourth, discussions on the Indus waters should be de-linked from both historic grievances and from the other Kashmir-related issues. Again, it is a sign of statesmanship, not weakness, to acknowledge the past and then move beyond it. This is personal for me, as someone of Irish origin. Conor Cruise O’Brien once remarked, “Santayana said that those who did not learn their history would be condemned to repeat it; in the case of Ireland we have learned our history so well that we are condemned to repeat it, again and again.”

And finally, as a South African I am acutely aware that Nelson Mandela, after 27 years in prison, chose not to settle scores but to look forward and construct a better future, for all the people of his country and mine. Who will be the Indian Mandela who will do this – for the benefit of Pakistanis and Indians – on the Indus?

John Briscoe is the Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering, Harvard University. This op-ed is reproduced with permission of the author who wrote it for Aman ki Asha, the joint peace initiative of the Jang Group of Pakistan and the Times of India. It was originally published in Jang (March 31) and The News (April 3) as part of Aman ki Asha’s ongoing campaign on information about water issues.
Link for The News:  


  • Vinod
    Posted at 05:11h, 04 April Reply

    An eye-opening piece.

  • ercelan
    Posted at 07:45h, 04 April Reply

    interestingly not even an allusion to the ecological imperative of zero storage, the bad tradeoff even in run of the river hydro such as ghazi barotha

  • ercelan
    Posted at 09:25h, 04 April Reply

    riyer has an article in a recent epw (mar 27) — illustrating briscoe’s point on the sad refusal of up-stream indian analysts to empathise with concerns of downstream pakistanis.
    Pakistan’s Questionable Move on Water by Ramaswamy R. Iyer

    The sharing of the Indus waters stands settled by the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, and the nature of the sharing is such that no disputes can arise on this matter. Questions of the conformity of Indian projects to the provisions of the treaty can indeed arise, but the agreement provides institutional mechanisms for dealing with them. By presenting a “non-paper” to India about its concerns on the sharing of river waters, Pakistan is therefore setting out on a dangerous path that could have major implications. It is perhaps inadvertently destroying the one positive element in the relationship between the two countries, and making it impossible for the India-Pakistan relationship to improve in the foreseeable future.

  • Hasan Abdullah
    Posted at 13:34h, 04 April Reply

    I congratulate the writer for the piece. I, however, do not foresee any “Nelson Mandela or Luis Inacio Lula da Silva”, emerging on the Indian horizon in the near future, as I do not find any dominant societal movement led by organised progressive/revolutionary forces.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 21:14h, 04 April

      Hasan: I also think it is a great piece because it lays bare the essence of a seemingly complex subject. Nobody who reads it can claim any longer that he/she does not understand the issue. And once we understand what is at stake we are intellectually prepared to take the next step. That next step could initiate a societal movement because every movement needs some starting point. The onus is on us. Any conflict would harm both countries. We need to begin thinking and speaking in terms of actions that would enhance the welfare of all citizens irrespective of the side of the border in which they reside.

      The following article provides a parallel account of the rising conflict between China and its neighbors over the sharing of water. This reiterates that the issue is one that needs to be taken seriously.

  • ercelan
    Posted at 16:36h, 04 April Reply

    waiting for mandela or lula is like waiting for a messiah — forget our own responsibility?

  • Hasan Abdullah
    Posted at 04:30h, 05 April Reply

    It is not at all the question of waiting for a messiah, or abdicatuing one’s responsibility; but every one can not don every role.

    However, ultimately, the direction of societal movement is determined by the vector product of the societal forces. And, as of now, no organised social force – be it a political party or a mass front or any other – is seen leading the movement for badly needed societal churning. After all, the hitherto existing organised progressive formations represent and/ or comprise the most advanced/ conscious people.

    That is, however, not to deny the possibility of a ‘messiah’ emerging from nowhere and leading the society along the most desirable path!

  • ercelan
    Posted at 10:42h, 05 April Reply

    turkey screwed its lower riparians without protest from pakistan. why should india not want to do the same?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:35h, 05 April

      Ercelan: This is the likely outcome. The question is: Can it be averted? For reasons of history, the visceral reaction of most people in both countries is to hurt the ‘other’. I guess it serves to satisfy some psychic need and is abetted by the fact that individuals do not perceive any direct cost of such an attitude. This attitude percolates up into the echelons of bureacracy and political leadership. The relevant question is how far up? In the case of Pakistan, it is safe to say all the way to the top. In India, it also looks to be the same way but there is more room to hope for a change.

      We expect a more mature response from the leadership. It is the task of the leadership to communicate to the electorate that their visceral urges have economic costs and that it is in the national interest to look at the issue differently. This is what should separate the leaders from the led and the good leaders from the ordinary ones. We can assess the leadership of Mandela and Lula in this perspective. There were no societal movements supporting enlightened behavior in either country – quite the contrary, the popular demand was for punitive actions. But both leaders took a courageous stand that was in the national interest and were able to convince their electorates of the logic of the actions.

      John Briscoe is pointing to the need for such leadership in India if a train wreck that would hurt all is to be avoided. Sreekumar is right in his comment that the situation is complex in the subcontinent but it is in complex situations that the leadership has to deliver. It is also at such times that the leadership needs support from key sections of civil society – that is where individuals and groups have a role to play.

    • Girdhar
      Posted at 16:33h, 07 April

      South Asian: Does this mean on the one hand Pakistan can keep bleeding India’ with a thousand cuts’ and India on the other hand will give in beyond the letter of the agreement ? In a democracy, NO government will do that nor can it do that without losing power.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 20:34h, 07 April

      Girdhar: The question implied in John Briscoe’s piece is whether the strategy to parry the terrorist dagger by using the riparian dagger is an intelligent one? Does it advance India’s long term interests? That, to me, was the intent of the reference to Nelson Mandela which should also answer your concern that “In a democracy, NO government will do that nor can do it without losing power.”

  • Hasan Abdullah
    Posted at 11:56h, 05 April Reply

    I do not quite understand the above response, nor do I wish to enter into any argument with an individual.

    It is unfortunate that, in spite of education, we fail to distinguish between the state and her people, and also between the oppressor and the oppressed.

    Perhaps we need to learn to stand for the truth and our perception needs to be informed by conscious partisanship for the disadvantaged and the discriminated.

    • Girdhar
      Posted at 16:22h, 07 April

      When India is dealing with a Government that is involved with terrorists who act as an existential threat to its neighbor (as noted by Sreekumar) one wonders who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed. In a perfect situation,when the terrorist dagger is withdrawn, hopefully, the upper riparian ‘dagger’ to parry the terrorist dagger, will also be withdrawn. Pakistan’s war with other means on India’s existence needs to be considered by the worthy professor, if the spirit of the Indus Waters agreement, should be adhered to in addition to the letter of the law.

  • sreekumar kv
    Posted at 12:08h, 05 April Reply

    A clearly written article.
    On comparing the behaviour of the Indian government with that of the Brazilian government, well the later did not have to deal with the negative public opinion formed by the actions of an unfriendly neighbour training and sending terrorists in to blow up innocent people.

  • Ashok
    Posted at 01:42h, 06 April Reply

    What is interesting to me is the contrast between the behavior of Indian and Pakistani press. I wonder if there’s a more general pattern. It reminded me of couple of things: One is something I had read during the cold war: that the Soviet citizens were better informed than the U.S. citizens. Second is an Israeli acquaintance pointing to the existence of democratic dissent in Israel to claim overall moral justification for state action.

    Might be interesting pathologies in democracies.

  • Arun Pillai
    Posted at 20:51h, 07 April Reply

    I find Briscoe’s article strangely devoid of the larger context even though he mentions it in passing in his fourth point on the way forward. And the comparison with Brazil also rings hollow. However, I still agree with him on the way forward but with some nuances.

    What could be done is the kind of leadership Obama has shown recently on the issue of nuclear arms: he is making the US take the first step towards denuclearization but is also providing both incentives and disincentives to the other parties to support his move.

    Likewise, India could take the first step in restoring fairness regarding the water issue but also provide incentives and disincentives if Pakistan did not play its part in reducing the larger conflict in South Asia. That is, India’s action should come first but be conditional rather than unconditional.

    Indeed, it appears like a splendid opportunity for both sides.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 03:16h, 08 April Reply

    There are similar, quite serious situations within India. Prominent among them are the Krishna-Godavari basins in Telangana and the Kaveri basin in Tamil Nadu. The political dimensions are different, with the Supreme Court and Union Govt playing arbitrators, more or less neutrally (to my understanding), because the states involved, Maharashtra and Andhra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, have similar political clouts. If it was a smaller state like Goa or Sikkim situation could have been similar to the Indo-Pak one.

    India has similar issues with Bangladesh, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farakka_Barrage I have higher hopes of a fairer resolution there, partly because of the less confrontational attitude of the Bangladeshi leadership and the deep cultural bonds with India.

  • Dipak Ghosh
    Posted at 03:59h, 08 April Reply

    As the author is expert on Water management, why there is no data(flow, date, place, comparison with previous years etc) in this piece that can prove India trying to create existancial problem for Pak?

    His example of Latin america makes no sense here. Pak for last 5000 years was India, broke apart thro’ world’s most bloody religious massacre, and still sponsoring terrorism.

    Has Bolivia, Paraguay does any of these to Brazil?

    If India wanted to undo Pakistan, it could have done it long time back, when Pak was being born or immediately after that. On the contrary, bogey of India has to be alive in Pak else it will cease to be one country.

    I think, author’s suggestion that Indians should be told about how India can create problem for Pakistan using water would yield the opposite result. Anti Pak feeling is so high in India (highest since partition and growing with each terror attack), indians would demand more punishment of Pak using water.

  • Dipak Ghosh
    Posted at 04:06h, 08 April Reply

    By the way, I was in the Eden Gardens on the day Nelson Mandela addressed first public meeting outside South Africa, after his release. Indeed he is a great leader.

    But if you look thro history of Ind-Pak closer, you will realize Indian leaders tried their best to keep the country united. United Ind-Pak-Bangladesh would have been world’s biggest country.

    Anyway, now it appears that India was saved because India would have been unbearable with additional 350 million (pop of Pak & Bangladesh) Muslims.

  • Ravi kiran
    Posted at 07:59h, 08 April Reply

    India’s harsh posture on the kashmir rivers is entirely political . Had Pakistan abstained from using terror as a state policy we Indian’s would have definitely been sympathetic to their concerns .But they kill innocent people with no remorse . India has resisted from using Kashmir rivers as the tool for four decades but Pakistan sees it as India’s incapacity to take tough decisions .How else will India fight a terror state like Pakistan .

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:24h, 08 April

      Ravi: “How else will India fight a terror state like Pakistan?” That indeed is the question on the table. Your articulation implies there is no other way than the “harsh posture” – that is a position held by many. But this does need to be subjected to a debate. The best way should be one that inflicts the least cost on India.

      This discussion nicely complements two posts that have appeared earlier on this blog. In “What Does the Argumentative Indian Argue About?” Anjum Altaf raises this very question – what is the best strategy for India in its dealings with Pakistan? And in “A Man of the Right” Vijay Vikram articulates the very great need for a policy-based dialogue on the Indian Right.

  • Vinod
    Posted at 04:25h, 09 April Reply

    You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it. – Malcolm X

  • m.r.sivaraman I.A.S. (RETD)
    Posted at 05:04h, 10 April Reply

    I agree with Mr. R Iyer and girdhar.The writer’s arguments are unexceptionable when there are normal relations between India and Pakistan.
    The day Pakistan outlaws LET and its other siblings, kills the commanders or immobilises them and ensures that they do not infiltrate into India I would be the first to support any unusual gesture toward Pakistan.I have been to Pakistan at the head of Indian delegations and have been the recipient of warm hospitality everywhere.I have supported Pakistan in the IMF many times and also in ICAO. But it is a pity that they see India as an enemy and as they cannot fight a successful conventional war perhaps even a nuclear one they are encouraging terrorists to wreak havoc on Indian soil.The day they give up this attitude there will be great dividends to both the countries.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:12h, 10 April

      Mr. Sivaraman: It is an honor for the blog to have merited a comment from as distinguished a civil servant as yourself. I interpret your comment as saying the following: The fact that Pakistani governments have used terrorism as part of their foreign policy legitimizes any action that India might employ in retaliation.

      This can be accepted as a principle but the issue of translating a general principle into concrete actions would still remain. What would be the best policy that would put an end to the menace of terrorism? Does eliminating terrorism equate to eliminating Pakistan? That is always one of the options available but my guess is the consensus would be that the costs of such a policy would exceed the benefits. If such a cost-benefit calculus is accepted then the case for debating and determining the most effective approach to eliminating terrorism from Pakistan remains. There is not been enough focus on this aspect of strategy.

    • m.r.sivaraman I.A.S. (RETD)
      Posted at 13:22h, 13 April

      I never said that Pakistan should be harmed.But Pakistan has to accept the reality that India is a bigger country with a much larger population.They should not try to ape India in every area.They should progress in their own way and we in our way.We are equal as sovereign independent countries.Sooner they realise they have created frankensteins the better they would be.They are now baying at their doorsteps.They should fight terrorism alongside India and the latter should be overly generous when that happens.When Pakistan puts its ISI under civilian control to be manned by civilians it would have liberated itself from its present problems and then cooperation with Indian agencies would be possible for the fight against terrorism and they could rightfully demand that India be generous to Pakistan in every other way.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:42h, 20 April

      Mr. Sivaraman: I agree with much of what you say but I don’t believe this perspective yields an effective strategy. When you say “They are now baying at their doorsteps” who is the ‘they’ you are referreing to? All Pakistanis? Surely that cannot be the case because as you said in your previous comment “I have been to Pakistan at the head of Indian delegations and have been the recipient of warm hospitality everywhere.” A discriminating strategy will tease apart the ‘they’, encourage the groups that are desirous of good relations, isolate the ones that are hostile, and make the gains from cooperation plain for all to see. Of course, this calls for diplomacy of a very high calibre.

  • Shahjahan Bhatti
    Posted at 09:54h, 10 April Reply

    The treaty was signed by Pundit Nehru and general Ayub Khan at Karachi in 1962. Unfortunately Pakistan couldn’t develop scientific culture and the result was disastrous. Religious fanatics received prominence with fake degrees. Whereas India maintained secular education and by 2000 it achieved capability to launch its own satellites. Now if both countries decides to develop genuine friendship to the extent that Indians agree to provide satellite surveillance of water resources to the water experts of its neighbors, an accurate resolution of water crisis are possible in the region. Otherwise peace will remain allusive. Cheating each other will invite troubles in south Asia. Poor communities will be the ultimate victim in this game.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 04:01h, 13 April Reply

    Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar proposes a way forward that replaces canal irrigation with piped irrigation. Let us see if the experts agree it can work at the scale of the Indus basin system: Checking the Indus Waters Dispute.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 21:46h, 14 April Reply

    Some readers have expressed surprise and/or irritation that either a discussion or a strategic analysis based on a cost-benefit calculus may be relevant in the campaign against terrorism. I have a comment and an example to speak to this argument.

    First, I hope it is agreed that an action that yields the most satisfaction to a random individual need not necessarily be the one that best advances the national interest. Despite that fact that many in the US advocate a ‘Nuke Iran’ stance, the Administration has decided to pursue other options. If there is agreement on this, it follows that there would need to be a search for the most effective policy in any given situation.

    An example of the above is the time taken by the Obama administration to decide what to do in Afghanistan. A review of all strategic options based on the inputs of the most informed experts culminated in the choice of a specific alternative. In his West Point speech President Obama explained why this alternative was superior to all the others that were evaluated.

    Of course, this does not mean that the alternative chosen would turn out to be the right one in retrospect. The debate continues as illustrated in this op-ed in the New York Times by Robert Wright.

  • shreyas
    Posted at 18:06h, 15 April Reply

    As an Indian, I have always been proud of the fact that we have had a responsible media (most of them). The MEA interference is very disappointing. While I do not support killings (I do not want to use the word terrorism), we are blinded by nationalism every time such incidents occur. It is more important to understand the cause of such acts. Aggression will never be a solution cause its always the cause!!

  • Ganpat Ram
    Posted at 15:37h, 19 April Reply

    Vikram points out:

    “India has similar issues with Bangladesh, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farakka_Barrage I have higher hopes of a fairer resolution there, partly because of the less confrontational attitude of the Bangladeshi leadership and the deep cultural bonds with India.”

    I would agree with this completely.

    By contrast, the chances of agreement with Pakistan are nil.

  • shaukat ali chughtai
    Posted at 18:50h, 19 April Reply

    It is one of the best piece on indus water treaty by Briscoe. It is an eye opener article which should be seen in its entirety. Otherwise peace will perish in south asia. Indian being one of the biggest country must not think to destroy Pakistan. Both countries are militarily strong and any war if emerges will bring destruction to the whole of sub-continent. Eruption at one place will have flames in the whole sub continent. Let the sane and sages sit together and settle things amicably. Otherwise……………………..end of indus civilization………………………end of history…………….end of billions of people………………………no emotionalizm……..just think rightly ……otherwise wait for a desert in the whole sub continent. Catch the time….and now is the time.

  • Shahjahan Bhatti
    Posted at 03:55h, 20 April Reply

    Since unwise partition of India, Pakistanis have been using muscles instead of mind to persuade Indians to resolve different crisis. With overt and covert threats, they have failed so far. Now’s the time a genuine friendship is established between the two sister countries. Alas those who gained power by looting Hindu property in last sixty years won’t allow it.

  • Jakob
    Posted at 15:48h, 17 January Reply

    I have a review up at Dawn of a most recent ‘Water War’ book from India:


    I think one problem is that the loudest voices in the debates from the water experts side come from the hydraulic engineers whose major focus is always ‘build’ and ‘discharge’. They of course see conflict on the horizon all the time. If the water managers (who have a more conceptual than technocratic approach) would be heard, the common debate would be a lot less war mongering.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 06:02h, 30 January Reply

    A useful perspective on India-Pakistan water issues by Ramaswamy Iyer – Dealing with Pakistan’s Fears on Water.


    The best reassurance that Pakistan can have is full Indian compliance with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

  • Pingback:South African Water Consultant (& Harvard Environmental Prof) J. Briscoe sums it up | Brown Pundits
    Posted at 16:04h, 04 December Reply

    […] War or Peace on the Indus? […]

  • Mihir
    Posted at 17:49h, 28 August Reply

    When we talk of Indus water treaty, we also have to factor in three aspects which are commonly missed in any of the discussions.
    1. The Western rivers especially the Indus has a large catchment area in Pakistan itself.
    2. Indus has left bank tributaries too that add water to the River system.
    3. There is an excess flow (over and above the optimal volume to be discharged into the sea) in the IRS which flows uninterrupted to the Arabian Sea and in therefore wasted.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:07h, 03 September

      Mihir: It is not clear from your comment how these three factors affect the Indus Water Treaty. Could you elaborate.

      Also, which ones are the major left bank tributaries?

      Regarding excess flow, if this is indeed the case, why is the Indus delta so badly affected?

Post A Reply to ercelan Cancel Reply