Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tensions Rise Between India, Pakistan and China Over Water

The media seems to report a new crises every minute. However, this article about tensions between and among India, Pakistan and China over control and use of water seems to raise a legitimate concern. The primary issue is, by its control of the Kashmir region, India also controls the headwaters of the Indus river. Because of the construction of dams, India potentially is at a point where it could cut off or reduce water to Pakistan at key times. China and India are also butting heads over Chinese plans to divert water from rivers that feed into India.

The greatest risk of armed conflict appears to be between India and Pakistan. From the article:

.... Pakistan’s most powerful man, the head of the armed forces, General Ashfaq Kayani, cites water to justify his “India-centric” military stance.

Others take it further. “Water is the latest battle cry for jihadis,” says B.G. Verghese, an Indian writer. “They shout that water must flow, or blood must flow.” Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terror group, likes to threaten to blow up India’s dams. Last year a Pakistani extremist, Abdur Rehman Makki, told a rally that if India were to “block Pakistan’s waters, we will let loose a river of blood.”

Assorted hardliners cheer them on. A blood-curdling editorial in Nawa-i-Waqt, a Pakistani newspaper, warned in April that “Pakistan should convey to India that a war is possible on the issue of water and this time war will be a nuclear one.”
The CIA apparently also believes that water will be an increasing source of tension between India and Pakistan:

Analysts have suggested that, given the generally dire relations between South Asian countries, water will provoke clashes rather than co-operation. A 2009 report for the CIA concluded that “the likelihood of conflict between India and Pakistan over shared river resources is expected to increase”, though it added that elsewhere in the region “the risk of armed interstate conflict is minor”. And a Bangladeshi security expert, Major-General Muniruzzaman, predicts that India’s “coercive diplomacy”, its refusal to negotiate multilaterally on such issues as river-sharing, means that “if ever there were a localised conflict in South Asia, it will be over water.”

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