Posted on 16/09/2011
An academic at Royal Holloway, University of London has been awarded £225,000 for a three year project that could help prevent future conflicts in India and Pakistan.
Dr Dan Haines, from the Department of History, will examine the history of the Indus Basin, an arid region split between India and Pakistan, where both countries rely on the River Indus to generate hydroelectric power and to irrigate vast areas of agricultural land.
While there have been many studies examining the Indus’s geology, this study is unique as it will investigate how dividing the river system between two countries affected South Asia politically, socially and environmentally.
The Indus River has been the source of contention between India and Pakistan for many years. The Indus Waters Treaty, introduced in 1960, led to the relatively harmonious sharing of the river for the past half century but tensions appear to be brewing once again, leading to predictions that conflict could erupt.
Dr Haines says: “While I would not be so bold as to claim that this study could provide definite answers to avoiding conflict, it will provide insight into past triggers of instability. I expect it to reveal that while the region has experienced a period of stability there is the potential for a major flashpoint.
“This study will certainly provide a greater understanding of the region and could help with future policy making,” Dr Haines adds.
Dr Haines will examine tensions both between India and Pakistan, and within the countries themselves, during the phase of a major river-diversion project construction after decolonization, circa 1947-1980. He hopes to draw on oral history as well as examining the archival material available.
He says: “Previous studies focus on the geology of the area, whereas I will be looking at how the political and environmental factors are united.”
Dr Haines has received a grant of £225,755 from the British Academy for the study, Rivers Divided: the partition of South Asia and water politics in India and Pakistan.