What are India and Pakistan Really Fighting About?
Since their mutual formation in 1947, India and Pakistan have engaged in
three major wars and countless other skirmishes and diplomatic rows.
With at least 100 nuclear warheads in each other’s arsenals, the
prospect of a South Asian atomic holocaust casts a dark shadow over the
entire region. However, the most important issue that divides these
longtime enemies is not necessarily nuclear arms nor territorial
disputes over Kashmir nor a hundred other contentious subjects —
rather, the dominant overriding conflict between India and Pakistan lies
with the simplest, but most crucial, necessity of life: water.
And with the concurrent factors of rising populations and global climate
change, the scarcity of water could make all other problems and
disagreements between India and Pakistan seem quite irrelevant. Indeed,
the lack of access to clean, safe drinking water not only poses a threat
to hundreds of millions of people’s lives on the subcontinent, but
could conceivably lead to another war.
A joint study by researchers from the Stimson Center, a U.S-based think
tank; the Observer Research Foundation in India; and the Sustainable
Development Policy Institute in Pakistan determined that ”water
shortages could hit the subcontinent in a few years because growing
populations and increasing development are placing rising pressure on
the Indus Basin, to the point that water removals from the Indus are
outpacing natural rates of renewal.”
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