APROPOS the letter ‘Revisiting Kalabagh dam project’ (Augt 31). My ancestral village in Swabi district is located close to the confluence of rivers Indus and Kabul. According to non-technical commentators who are misinformed, it is going to be submerged if Kalabagh dam is made. However, I fully support the opinion that construction of the dam is the lifeline of Pakistan.
Nonetheless, there is need to set the record straight on one score: the threat from Kabul river. The apprehension that with Indian assistance the Afghan government could raise several dam-related infrastructures on River Kabul which in turn would tighten the noose around Pakistan’s neck, is preposterous and disinformation.
First, the Kabul river originates from Lake Qarambara, located in the northwest of Pakistani territory in Chitral. Flowing down via Mastooj- Bambagh, it is called Chitral river. After Drosh in Chitral district, the Chitral river enters Afghan territory at Arundu, reaches Jalalabad and re-named there as Kunar river. Thereafter, Kunar river re-enters Pakistan at Warsak. Intriguingly, in Pakistan it has been named Kabul river although during Chitral river’s flow into Afghanistan, it comes nowhere close to Kabul than a 100 miles to the city.
Therefore it is sad that by naming this river as Kabul we have given up ownership of the Chitral river which belongs wholly to Pakistan.
Second, the damming of the ‘so-called’ Kabul river poses absolutely no threat to Pakistan’s interests? Firstly, except for Kunar (Afghanistan) where the human population is living on topography that is barely above the rivers’s water level. During the rest of its flow in Afghanistan it flows through deep gorges. So except, at Kunar, no infrastructure to harness the river can possibly be raised. Second, if there is any attempt of foul play, in a tit-for-tat, Pakistan can dechannelise Chitral river towards Swat and Dir by constructing 10 water tunnels. In that event, Afghan territory from Arundu Barikot to Jalalabad would become barren.
Sayed GB Shah Bokhari
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019