Book Review
Undeclared Water War

By Dr Ahmed S. Khan
Addison, IL

Water is the life blood of billions of people all over the globe. Water use has been increasing at more than twice the rate of population growth in the last century. UN experts forecast that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could face severe stress conditions on their water supplies.

Looking into the future, many experts value water to be more precious than oil, silver and gold, and believe that in the near future the liquid wars will focus on water and not oil. It is just a matter of time before countries flex their muscle to secure water for their growing populations. The US security establishment has already warned about potential conflicts over water. In 2012 ICA Global Water Security report, the US director of national intelligence warned that overuse of water – as in India and other countries – was a source of conflict that could potentially compromise US national security. In South Asia, Pakistan and India are facing severe water shortages. Many experts have warned about the potential of a regional water war. Nina Brooks, in her article Imminent Water Crisis in India, observes, “India could become the stage for major international water wars because so many rivers that originate in India supply water to other countries. India has the power to avoid this dark future if people take action immediately.”

In Undeclared Water War on Pakistan: Tactical and Strategic Defense Measures, Professor Iqbal Ali presents a captivating account of an undeclared water war imposed on Pakistan. Dr Ali presents a historical perspective and the social, economic, and ecological challenges that must be overcome to prevent the looming water crisis. In his view, Pakistan has already reached the level of Ethiopia and other desert nations, such as Libya and Algeria, and water shortage is forcing it to become a water-scarce nation. Professor Dr Iqbal Ali has unique credentials to pen this manuscript. This book reflects his more than fifty years of experience and expertise in the field of Water Resource Management and Engineering. He has served on the faculty of the University of Engineering & Technology, Lahore (1962-1975), King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1975 – 1987), NED University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi (1988-1997 & 2008-2012). He was a member of the Technical Committee on Water Resources (2003-2005), appointed by Government of Pakistan to look into the possibility of building the Kalabagh Dam (KBD) and related issues. He has authored numerous research articles, and many textbooks which are being used in universities around the globe. Dr Ali has skillfully covered a wide span of time, from pre-partition to the present, by critically examining past and present water issues and assessing future scenarios related to an undeclared water war that has been imposed on Pakistan. The author has masterfully juxtaposed technical details with historical facts in straightforward language so that readers with non-technical backgrounds can grasp the complexities of the issue. The book consists of eight chapters and seven appendices which contain a plethora of information; the appendix on India’s Water Crisis is a chapter in itself. Other appendices present information on topics like global energy challenges, Indus Water Treaty, judgment on Baglihar, China’s Three Gorges Dam, Report on Kalabagh Dam feasibility, and India’s water conflict with Bangladesh. In Chapter 1, The Prelude, Dr Ali sets the stage for his thesis of undeclared water war imposed on Pakistan by exploring the historical perspective about Wars for Resources.

In Chapter 2, Agriculture, Water, and Pakistan, the author discusses the importance of agriculture for Pakistan. He states that agriculture is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy; it contributes 22 percent of GDP and employs about 43 percent of the labor force. Today, Pakistan ranks eighth in the world in farm output. In Chapter 3, Water War: 1947- Onwards, Dr Ali explores the root cause of the water conflict. He observes that the undeclared water war, in fact began with the Radcliffe Award, and giving Madhopur and Ferozepur barrages to India. The author observes that this was an unnatural and biased demarcation that can be considered the first attack on the water front. The result became visible within six months (January 1948), when water was switched off in the Dipalpur Canal and Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC). Within four months of independence, thousands of acres of wheat crop dried up with no water in the canals. In Chapter 4, Middle Stage Attack (1952-60), Dr Ali expounds on the background that led to the Indus Water Treaty, and the fact that India was waging the water war with a strategy and a long range plan, while this issue did not get the attention it deserved in Pakistan. He observes that Western powers, through the World Bank, favored the Indian demands while the political instability (1952-58) in Pakistan had a disastrous effect on the lower Riparian of Sutlej and Ravi. Pakistan’s weak-nerved military rulers were clearly outsmarted by the Indians with their clever and mature negotiation tactics, he believes. On the negotiation table, it was a war of nerves that Pakistan was losing. India prevailed on Pakistan to agree to totally surrender Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi, taking away from Pakistan 24 million acre-feet (MAF) per year. The loss amounted to losing almost 3 Tarbela or 4 Kalabagh reservoirs.

In Chapter 5, Last Stage: 1990-Onwards, Dr Ali states that the second stage (1952–60) ended in a victory for India since they achieved more than they had sought, once Pakistan happily signed the Indus Water Treaty in September 1960. Under the Treaty India in addition to three eastern rivers was given 4.45 MAF/year from three western rivers and was further allowed to continue to draw water for their existing projects on western rivers. Pakistan was denied drawing waters from the eastern rivers and asked to build replacement works costing billions of dollars, a great financial burden which also caused environmental degradation and change of morphology. The author further observes that it can be said this treaty was more unfortunate than the one signed in Dhaka in 1971. The author also draws attention to the gravity of the situation created by India’s construction of multiple dams, as pointed out by John Briscoe, the World Bank irrigation adviser. After the judgment of the neutral expert allowing India spillway gates, John Briscoe wrote: “If Baglihar was the only dam being constructed on Chenab and Jhelum, it would be a limited problem. But following Baglihar is a veritable caravan of Indian projects — Kishenganga, Sawalkot, Pukuldal, Bursar, Dulhuste, Gypsa, and on and on. The cumulative live storage will be large enough giving India unquestionable capacity to have a major impact on the timing of flows into Pakistan.”

In Chapter 6, The Internal Subversion, the author presents an account of how anti-Pakistan forces used internal subversion to create a powerful anti-Kalabagh lobby to promote mistrust among all stakeholders. The author observes that the postponement of Kalabagh has pushed Pakistan toward becoming a water-scarce nation. The rising population and consequent rise in demand for food and water, and depletion of storage due to silting in the three existing reservoirs, has brought pressure on groundwater supplies. The anti-Kalabagh lobby claims it is based on technical and not political grounds, which Dr Ali disputes. He advises that Pakistan should let no foreign agency succeed in creating an internal quarrel that can forever seal the fate of building storage structures for water, which is now just getting wasted by flowing into the sea, while the thirsty lands of Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, and KPK are crying for water. Dr Ali recommends that in all provinces of Pakistan, especially in Sindh and Punjab, all stakeholders need to be educated about the water scarcity and potential solutions for dealing with it, so that instead of fighting amongst themselves on the distribution of water they should unite to deal with India’s undeclared water war. Instead of agitating against KBD, which should be constructed as soon as possible to end the ongoing energy crisis, the agitation should address the threat posed to Pakistan through the Baglihar Dam and scores of dams built in India on the rivers flowing into Pakistan. A new strategy and “a national water policy” needs to be developed to deal with the undeclared water war on Pakistan.

In Chapter 7, Pakistan’s Water Scenarios and Challenges, Dr. Ali analyzes both the external onslaught and the internal subversion aiming to prevent the construction of major water resources in Pakistan. Addressing the leadership, Dr Ali observes: “The wadera rulers should trust their water resources experts, and cooperate with them to manage this problem, rather than use the water issues for political games…The idea of building Motorways is great and wonderful, but water, energy and hydropower resources are the most wanted dynamic economic engines required for the progress of a nation, and thus, must be placed on the top of the priority list of national mega projects.”

Every few years, floods in Pakistan cause massive destruction of crops and property. Dr Ali suggests that the floods of the Indus system must be captured by building a series of dams at every feasible site. Dr Ali observes that the price of uncaptured flood water wasted to the sea is about 13.2 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 10 Tarbela reservoirs. If stored and routed through KBD, this water would have generated 30,476 MW of much needed electricity, the engine for economic growth. To deal with water shortages in urban centers like Karachi, Dr Ali proposes the construction of desalination plants, working on alternate energy sources like solar and wind power. In Chapter 8, Tactical and Strategic Defense Measures, Dr Ali argues vehemently for the construction of the KBD as it offers an immediate solution to stop Pakistan’s constant retreat in the water war. Dr. Ali poses a question: “If the federal government can engage the militants in dialogue, why not have a dialogue with the Anti-KBD bobby?” He observes that the KBD can be started right away and should be taken up without delay owing to the following reasons: . It can be built by Pakistani engineering construction companies with Pakistani supervision. . Finances can be arranged from within and from international donors. . The time required for completion, about 5-6 years, is minimal compared to other dams. . It will produce 3600 MW of cheap power. . It is the only dam which can better control the floods in South Punjab and Sindh. . Operation of Kalabagh reservoir in conjunction with Tarbela can fully meet the need for irrigation water of all the provinces, thus fostering harmony and good relations amongst them. . The site is already connected by metaled roads and railway lines, and is close to the national power grid thus avoids long transmission lines. . This is the only dam which can control the floods of the Kabul River. Dr Ali observes that Pakistan used to be a “Water Effluent Nation, then became a Water Deficient Nation, then fell to a Water-Scarce Nation, and, finally, will become a Rain Dependent (Barani) Nation.” Unless it takes steps, that is…Without new reservoirs the wonderful irrigation system of Pakistan will operate like an automobile engine without a flywheel, leading to jerk after jerk. Dr Ali warns that if Pakistani leadership does not rise to the occasion and take a bold decision on building a new reservoir at Kalabagh, followed by other dams, the water war on Pakistan will place the country on the last and final step of the water scarcity ladder, below which there are no more steps. Unique in its depth, breath and detailed analysis, Undeclared Water War on Pakistan: Tactical and Strategic Defense Measures, stimulates, inspires and builds awareness of the importance of water shortages, and presents possible solutions for dealing with the challenges. The manuscript includes numerous tables, statistics, charts and photographs to supplement the chapter contents. The book concludes with a unifying message of River Indus. It is a must read for anyone seeking technical or non-technical understanding of the water issues of the present and future. The book is a valuable reference for water experts, policy makers, academics and the public at large. Title: Undeclared Water War on Pakistan: Tactical and Strategic Defense Measures

Author: Professor Dr Iqbal Ali ISBN: 978-969-848-6174 Publisher: Allied Book Company, Naqi Market, 75 The Mall, Lahore, Pakistan Phone: 042-363-06456, Fax: 042- 363-60662, Email: allied@lhr.comsats. (Dr. Ahmed S. Khan, is a Professor of Electronics & Electrical Engineering in the College of Engineering & Information Sciences, DeVry University, Addison, IL, USA)


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
© 2004 . All Rights Reserved.