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The News

Published Date: Dec 29, 2013

Establishment starts looking into Kishenganga fiasco

There are reports that the military establishment is upset
about the international court’s decision on Kishenganga and its repercussions
on the country’s water interests, and at some point questions may be asked
about the team which led Pakistan to this debacle.

According to top sources, members of the legal and technical
team may face the music over the way the case was fought in The Hague court and
more importantly the establishment will go deep into the rationale for
appointment of Kamal Majidullah who was alien to the trans-boundary water
issues.

Commissioner Pakistan’s Commission of Indus Water (PCIW)
Mirza Asif Beg admitted that Kamal Majidullah led Pakistan’s team in the Hague
court till the partial award that came out on February 18, 2013.

When this correspondent tried to contact the ISPR for a
formal response whether the GHQ’s legal branch would take up the case and look
into it, no official was immediately available. However, sources said the way
Pakistan’s case was handled had upset many in the establishment and they were
soon going to look into what had happened.

Kamal Majidullah was the one who managed to get notified the
Pakistan Trans-border Water Organization (PTWO) on September 23, 2011 and
brought down PCIW under the umbrella of PTWO.

Beg said PCIW was bound to directly and exclusively report
to PTWO and even Majidullah used to get annoyed when PCIW reported to the
Ministry of Finance. Majidullah tried his best to limit the role of PCIW in the
legal battle against India.

Beg said the PCIW was even not allowed by Majidullah to
report to the parent Ministry of Water and Power. So under these conditions no
one was aware in the ministry what Majidullah was doing. Till the partial
decision by The Hague court, Majidullah was responsible as he was calling the
shots, Beg said.

He admitted that the partial decision was the foundation of
the final decision.

When asked why Pakistan’s side did not submit data on
current or anticipated agricultural uses of water from the Kishenganga/Neelum
with The Hague court, Beg said when there was no water use for agriculture from
Muzaffarabad to Dau Bhat, how they could submit the required data. He admitted
that the reduced flow of water of 9 cubic meters per second allowed by The
Hague would not be enough for maintaining the environment of Neelum Valley. The
Hague court’s decision was consensus in which the interests of both the
countries were compromised. However, on the issue of diversion of water in
Kishenganga project, the decision is heavily tilted in favour of India whereas
on the issue of drawdown of flushing, the decision was totally in favor of
Pakistan.

When this reporter tried to contact Kamal Majidullah, the
then special advisor to the prime minister on water and food and Pakistan’s
agent in Kishenganga case, to seek his comments, he did not respond to any SMS
containing the questions: i) What is your view about The Hague decision; ii) Is
it true that you are alien to trans-boundary water related issues and what was
the rationale of your appointment; iii) Is it right that you managed to bring
down PCIW under your contract and it was bound to directly and exclusively
report to you and not even to the Ministry of Water and Power and is it also
true that you used to stop PCIW from sharing water related information about
India with the Foreign Office?

However, Wapda officials are of the view that with the
defeat in The Hague court on diversion of water by India in Kishenganga hydro
power project, Pakistan is to brave every year a huge loss of $ 145 million for
the units of electricity that will not be produced by Neelum-Jhelum (N-J)
hydropower project in the wake of massive reduction in water flows. However,
they said a thorough probe should be initiated against Pakistan’s legal and
experts’ team that failed to plead the case in an effective manner of the low
riparian country. “And on top of it, the more shocking development is that
India plans to construct 10 more hydropower projects upstream Wullar Lake that
would inflict more damage on Pakistan’s water interests.

When contacted, eminent water and energy expert Arshad H
Abbasi, presently associated with SDPI (Sustainable Development Policy
Institute) as advisor, said the decision by the international court was a
disaster for Pakistan not only for electricity generation capacity of
Neelum-Jhelum project, but also for the ecology of the beautiful Neelum valley.