A group of Pakistani lawmakers have asked for a review of the Indus Waters Treaty with India, warning that the issue of sharing trans-boundary waters with the neighboring country was more potent than terrorism.
Speaking at the first private members' day of the 8th parliamentary session on January 28, the legislators expressed concern over India’s dam construction on what they claim are Pakistani waters. They said water scarcity in Pakistan needs to be discussed and immediate measures found to tackle it, and called for an All Parties Conference to address the issue at length.
They warned that in the future, wars could break out in the region over the issue of water.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Member Javed Ali Shah urged the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to vigorously defend Pakistan's water rights, and suggested that the Indus Waters Treaty be reviewed.
"This must be the first priority, as it is even more serious than terrorism," Shah said.
Some National Assembly Members even expressed fears that India’s dam construction was aimed at leaving the country barren.
While opinion was divided on the controversial 3,600-megawatt Kalabagh Dam on the Indus River, the lawmakers agreed that the government should construct other, non-controversial dams and reservoirs to meet the country’s growing need for water for human consumption, irrigation and power.
Naeema Kishwar of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl Party said Pakistan should focus on conserving available water resources in the country and preventing waste, rather than depending on India. She also suggested that Pakistan could turn to neighboring Afghanistan for water.
Pakistan Muslim League member Shahabuddin Khan warned that a review of the Indus Waters Treaty could further disadvantage Pakistan. He said the government was mistakenly focusing on India’s Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant Project in Jammu & Kashmir.
"India is stopping our water through Baglihar Dam, not the Kishanganga Dam, and we are focusing all our attention on Kishanganga dam,” he said.