- PM Farooq Haider says India planning to divert another river in Poonch district
- ‘We don’t need observer status, we want full membership in IRSA, as key stakeholders’
- Kashmiri leader says Muzaffarabad interested to maintain working relationship with PTI-led govt in centre
LAHORE: The state government of Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) has asked Islamabad to quit or at least review the pros and cons of the ‘controversial’ Indus Waters Treaty, a World Bank-brokered settlement signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, between Pakistan and India to use the water available in the six rivers of the Indus system.
According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three eastern rivers – the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) – was given to India, while control over the water flowing in three western rivers – the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF – was given to Pakistan.
In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan said that Pakistan must review the controversial water treaty with India as there was nothing in it but a clear devastation. “I don’t know why Islamabad signed a one-sided agreement with a country that is very much clear to destroy not only Pakistan but also other neighbours,” he said.
“The objectives are recognising rights and obligations of each the country in settlement of water use from the Indus rivers in a spirit of goodwill, friendship and cooperation contrary to the fears of Islamabad that India could potentially create floods or droughts in Pakistan, especially at times of war since substantial water inflows of the Indus basin rivers are from India,” the treaty’s preamble declares.
During his extensive talk, PM Farooq Haider revealed that India was planning to divert the Poonch River, which is a tributary of the Jhelum River flowing through India-held Kashmir (IHK) to Azad Jammu Kashmir. “This is another fact that India is planning to create drought situation in Pakistan and in our side of the state,” he said.
Under the AJK Wildlife and Fisheries Act 2010, the state government designated the Poonch River, its tributaries and their beds from Degwar Madarpur to the Mangla Dam as the ‘Mahasheer National Park’ to protect the Golden Mahasheer. This largest freshwater fish, known as Tor Putitora in the scientific name, inhabits the southern watersheds of the Himalayas and prefers to live in the lakes, dams or manmade impoundments but migrates upwards to the tributaries to locate the shallow and gravel stream beds where it breeds each year.
Besides mainstream political leadership, the policymakers and intellectuals would also have to sit together to discuss India’s continuous efforts to create unending water crises in Pakistan and to destroy its economy, Prime Minister Farooq Haider said. “We have to make a clear national policy to confront India’s water aggression in the South Asian region,” he suggested.
The Kashmiri prime minister also demanded full membership of the Indus River System Authority (IRSA), a five-member body setup under the Indus River System Authority Act 1992 to regulate and monitor the distribution of water sources of Indus River in accordance with the water accord amongst the four provinces. “We don’t need any observer status as we are key stakeholders,” he said.
He stressed that the Kashmir issue should be resolved as per the desires of the Kashmiri people by implementing the historic UN Security Council resolutions. To a question, he completely rejected a four-point formula, introduced by former military ruler General (r) Pervez Musharraf and propagated by former foreign minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri.
He said that only two persons – Musharraf and his close aide and then national security advisor Tariq Aziz – might know the veracity of the much-propagated formula. “I don’t think that Mr Kasuri even (still) know the actual position of the (four-point) formula,” he said. “We have to understand that Kashmir is not a border dispute between Pakistan and India.”
“Musharraf, during his undemocratic rule, was trying to convert the Kashmir issue of right to self-determination into a border dispute through his so-called formula,” the Kashmiri prime minister said. “We have no other option but to follow and demand with conviction resolution of the Kashmir issue through the UN Security Council resolutions,” he said.
TIES WITH PTI-LED GOVT IN CENTRE:
About his relations with the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan in centre, he said that the government in Muzaffarabad was interested to maintain a working relationship with Islamabad. “We have our own political views and political approach based on long struggle so how can we change our mindset for someone,” he said, adding that the Kashmiri government would try its level best to continue necessary exchanges with the centre.