The question of compensation
In response to an article by Dr. Javaid Iqbal
ABDUL MAJID ZARGAR
The Indus water treaty (IWT) is once again in discussion. A demand often being raised is that J&K should claim compensation from Pakistan (as also India) on account of losses suffered by it due to Treaty. In his article “IWT-Violating natural justice” (Greater Kashmir-15th June), the highly acclaimed columnist ,Dr. Javaid Iqbal has raised the question of compensation from Pakistan, but to the dismay of his readers, has left it unanswered.
As rightly pointed out by the columnist, the question of compensation from Pakistan was also recommended by State Finance Commission(SFC) led By Mehmood-ul-Rehman in its report submitted to State Govt. in the preceding year. In making such a recommendation, SFC has betrayed a less –than-poor or a pedestrian knowledge of the whole gamut of IWT. To understand this we will have to revisit the historical facts & international law on the subject.
After partition of the sub continent into two independent sovereign countries India & Pakistan, the water resources of British India were divided between the two nation states first by virtue of an Inter Dominion Agreement in 1948 and finally by virtue of Indus Water treaty signed on September 19, 1960 in Karachi This treaty which gave near exclusive rights of waters of three rivers Ravi Sutlej & Beas to India and Chenab, Jhelum & Indus to Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank.
Let us pause a bit & see what were the conditions prevailing & options available to the two Countries at that point of time. J&K was an internationally disputed affair between India & Pakistan and ruled by an illegitimate & un representative Government having come into existence because of rigged elections & machinations of Delhi. Pakistan was a lower riparian state and it had certain rights to use of water flowing into it from all the six rivers Ravi, Sutlej, Beas, Chenab, Jhelum & Indus under international law. Contrary to all international norms, India had stopped water flow to Pakistan in 1948 which caused great damage to its crops and compelled it to first enter into a inter-dominion agreement & later into sustained dialogue culminating in IWT.
If principles of natural justice & good behavior were to be followed, India should have allowed Pakistan to use waters of Ravi Sutlej & Beas instead of three disputed rivers of J&K. Alternatively, even if the dispute angle was ignored, It could have allotted two rivers out of its own three to Pakistan & one out of Kashmir or at least minimum one out of its own three & two out of J&K rivers. But no - sheer Indian dishonesty was in full play here. It allotted all the three disputed J&K rivers to Pakistan. The underlying desire being to retain assets & resources with clear title & those with disputed ones to go to Pakistan. Unfortunately there was no body of Gandhi’s stature left in India to protest at this grave injustice to both Kashmir & Pakistan. J&K State was not even consulted though water resource was a state subject. There was also none in Kashmir to protest. Even Abdullah in prison, who would often write letters of protest from jail on political matters concerning him personally, did not raise any voice.
This takes us to the next question which is whether J&K should claim or is entitled to claim compensation of loss from Pakistan due to IWT. The answer to this would depend on whether Pakistan did get any undue or extra benefit from IWT. No doubt Pakistan is getting water from JK rivers but that is out of an international treaty allocating common assets between the two Separating countries & no country pays for using those assets which have come to its share out of a division by metes & bounds. Were Pakistan liable to pay for this use, India would have billed it since inception & pocketed the money? There should be no doubt about it. Looking from another angle, Pakistan has already paid adequate consideration for using JK river waters in the form of its forfeiture of rights over Ravi, Sutlej & Beas and nothing more is payable by it.
As far as compensation to J&K is concerned, it is only India which is liable. The simple reason being that it is India which used our waters to fulfill its own obligation towards Pakistan.
It saved Ravi, Sutlej & Beas from flowing to Pakistan and that is where it has to compensate Jammu & Kashmir. And those who still insist that Pakistan should pay are, I am afraid, indulging in a misdirected discourse.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jun 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jun 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jun 2012 00:00:00 IST
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