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The ‘Water’ in Kashmir bloodshed

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New Delhi, Feb 20: Pakistan's letter to the United Nations (UN) in connection with the Pulwama terror attack has once again raised an important question: is blood in Kashmir is being spilled for water?

The ‘Water’ in Kashmir bloodshed

Paksitan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and sought his help to reduce the tension between Islamabad and New Delhi.

India is up in arms since February 14 when a suicide bomber killed at least 41 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

[The Maulana menace: From a journalist, how Azhar became a dreaded terrorist]

Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has taken responsibility of the attack, which was executed by JeM's militant Adil Ahmad Dar, who was a resident of Pulwama.

The epitome of Qureshi's letter is that the Pulwama attack was an act of local Kashmiri; and due to domestic political reasons, India has threatened to use force against Pakistan.

Interestingly, Pakistan's foreign minister also writes that India has also hinted that it may abandon the Indus Waters Treaty.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has openly held Pakistan responsible for the Pulwma attack, and has regularly assured the nation that India will be take revenge.

However, Modi hasn't hinted anything regarding Indus Waters Treaty in the aftermath of Pulwama attack.

In July 2018, however, Prime Minister Modi chaired a review meeting of Indus Water Treaty, and reportedly the meeting decided India will "exploit to the maximum" the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water sharing pact.

Indus Waters Treaty

The first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and then President of Pakistan Ayub Khan signed a river water distribution agreement 'Indus Waters Treaty' in Karachi on September 19, 1960.

[India to expedite 3 projects to stop its share of Indus waters from flowing into Pakistan]

The World Bank brokered treaty deals with sharing of water of Indus water system having six rivers - Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries.

The treaty gives control over the water flowing in the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej rivers with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) to India, and the water flowing in the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers with the mean flow of 80 MAF to Pakistan.

It's notable that contrary to Qureshi's apprehension, the treaty is still intact despite India and Pakistan fighting full wars in 1965 and 1971.

'Water' in spilled blood in Kashmir

With the end of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan came into existence on August 14, 1947 and India on August 15, 1947.

As per the provisions of the Indian Independence Act 1947, the Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir remained independent. Historians have written that Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah made lucrative offers to Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir to accede to Pakistan but failed.

On October 22, 1947; Pakistan's tribal militia attacked Jammu and Kashmir. After the invaders proceeded to capture Srinagar, Maharaja Hari Singh sought India's help, which asked him to sign Instrument of Accession.

After Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India on October 26, 1947, Indian Army reached Srinagar. Later, Pakistan army was also involved in the conflict, which continued till December 31, 1948 after a peace agreement between India and Pakistan was signed.

At the culmination of the short war, the invaded areas of Jammu and Kashmir came under control of Pakistan and are called Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) by India and Azad Kashmir by Pakistan.

India's stand is that not only present geography of Jammu and Kashmir but also PoK is part of India.

Indian Parliament even passed a unanimous resolution on February 22, 1994, emphasising that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, and that Pakistan must vacate parts of the State under its occupation.

Apart from PoK, Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract were part of Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir but are now under control of China.

Since 1947, the demand of Independence has been prevalent in Muslim majority Kashmir Valley and is popularly known as 'Kashmir Issue'.

Pakistan has often termed Kashmir as its 'jugular vein' and has portrayed itself as the champion of Kashmiri independence struggle, and hence provides all sorts of support to armed militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

Thousands of people have been killed in Kashmir after Pakistan sponsored Islamist militancy broke out in 1989 to seek independence from India.

Since Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists managed to make 'Islam' a main ingredient in Kashmir issue, millions of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) were forced to flee from the state after they became target of Islamist militants. Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims have lost their lives without realising that Pakistan is only interested in Kashmir's water resources

In fact, the dispute over the sharing of water resources between India and Pakistan is also very important factor since both countries' independence.

Author Rao Farman Ali Malik in his book, "Water Polity and Kashmir" has given a detailed analysis of importance of Kashmir's waters for both India and Pakistan.

Pakistan's close to three-quarters of the population is dependent on the Indus basin for their livelihoods and drinking water. Any change to the water supply under Indus Waters Treaty to Pakistan would have a devastating impact.

A Bloomberg story in July 12, 2018, quoted Vikram Sood, former chief of India's foreign intelligence agency, as saying that nothing worries Pakistan's military elite more than the prospect of India using the flow of rivers into Punjab as leverage.

"Kashmir is not about Kashmir," Sood said. "It's certainly not about the Kashmiri people. It's about water."

Even, banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Chief Hafiz Saeed has on many occasions threatened India of dire consequences if it tries to disrupt flow of water into Pakistan.

However, till date Islamabad has publically remained tightlipped about its interest in waters of Kashmir. Therefore, those seeking independence in Kashmir do not realize the main motto of Kashmir issue. As a result, blood is being spilled in Kashmir Valley in the name of Jihad.

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