Various representative bodies of farmers have demanded that the “Most Favoured Nation” (MFN) status to India be linked to the release of water in the dried up Pakistan rivers Ravi and Sutlej to the tune of 30,000 acre feet per day to revive the river life and supplement the replenishing of underground water for drinking purposes, especially in south Punjab.
Talking to Business Recorder here on Tuesday, Convenor Punjab Water Council Farooq Bajwa said that the United Sates and the World Bank had forced Pakistan to sign the 1960 Indus Basin Water Treaty with India otherwise Pakistan would have been turned into a desert. Pakistan gave exclusive rights to India to its three Eastern Rivers – the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi, from where Punjab was utilising 23.MAF water in its canal systems.
He said that treaty was a result of Pakistan’s fear that since the source of the rivers of the Indus basin were in India, it could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan, especially in times of war. However, India did not revoke the treaty during any of the three later Indo-Pakistani Wars.
Bajwa said that however under Article VII’s sub-article I of the IWT, “the two parties recognised that they had a common interest in the optimum development of the rivers and they declared their intention to cooperate by mutual agreement to the fullest possible extent”
Bajwa pointed out that since water is the number one commodity of import, the supply of waters in our dried up rivers in lieu of Pakistan’s surplus wheat and Basmati rice would be a win-win start. Depriving Pakistan of this natural source would mean that India was bent upon destroying Pakistan’s agriculture.
President Basmati Growers Association Hamid Malhi told this scribe that the Commerce Ministry had called a meeting of the stake holders in Islamabad tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the pros and cons of giving unqualified MFN status to India. He said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector would be ruined if heavily subsidised Indian agriculture products were allowed to be imported unhindered.