The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has registered a case against Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan’s former Indus water commissioner, for allegedly acting as an agent of India by allowing India to build the Nimoo Bazgo Dam.
According to sources, the FIA and Pakistan’s spy agencies believe Shah acted maliciously to allow India a ‘free hand’ to build the 57-metre high hydropower project in Leh district, which some believe has caused great damage to the water interests of the country.
Meanwhile, Shah has reportedly been granted interim asylum in Canada. It appears that he moved his family and his assets to Canada after it was established that he would be accused of facilitating India in building the hydropower project.
Sources said that Shah has been declared a proclaimed offender and the FIA has obtained an arrest warrant to contact Interpol.
The 42-metre high Chutak hydroelectric power project is also being completed on the Suru River, a tributary of Indus in the Kargil district of Indian Kashmir.
The ministry has withheld Shah’s pension since an inquiry found that Shah lost the opportunity to take the issue to the court of arbitration and neutral experts, thus allowing India to build the dam freely.
Sources also revealed that the FIA found that Shah presented inaccurate reports. He also reportedly concealed crucial facts at various stages, knowing that, according a previous treaty, if either country completed a dam project then the other country could not build a similar project on the river. It is alleged that Shah received large payments from India for playing this role.
Apparently Shah left the country immediately after retiring, first arriving in the US before shifting to Canda. The FIA has started to trace his bank accounts in Pakistan and abroad.
The FIA’s case is also based on reports from the ISI and Military Intelligence. In addition there is a report from Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar, Secretary of Wapda, which stated that Shah did not play his due role and remained silent about the Nimoo Bazgo project and did not raise any objections during the Pak-India meetings at the Permanent Indus Commission.
The said projects will reduce the flows of water along the Indus River, and can store water up to 120,000,000 cubic metres.
The water and power ministry had earlier initiated a probe as to how India managed to construct the two projects, particularly Nimoo Bazgo, and why the Permanent Indus Commission failed to take proper measures under the Indus Waters Treaty to stop its construction.
The most alarming aspect of the report is that the commission team never visited the project before and during the construction period of the project.
The source claimed that India had informed Shah about the Nimoo Bazgo project six months before the initiation of its construction. At that time, Shah had objected to the design of the project as being against the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.
The commission, headed by Shah, also reportedly remained silent throughout 2007, 2008 and 2009 about the project. Surprisingly, it started pursuing the project vigorously at all levels when it was known that it would be impossible to change the design of the project after its completion. By that time it was too late for any court or neutral expert to give decision against the project.
Meanwhile, water expert Arshad Abbasi of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute claims he pointed out that Shah did not visit the site of the Nimoo-Bazgo by writing several letters to the prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2012.