The Indus River is Pakistan’s principal waterway. Known as the
Sindhu in Sanskrit, the Sinthos in Greek, and the Sindus in Latin,
it has been integral to Pakistan’s culture and history, yet paradoxically
gave its name to India, Pakistan’s neighbor and rival. Its headwaters are
in the Himalayas in Tibet. It fl ows northwest through Gilgit-Baltistan
in Kashmir before turning south and traversing the length of Pakistan,
its total length between 1,800 and 2,000 miles (2,900–3,200 km). The
river gave birth to one of the world’s fi rst great civilizations, the Indus
Valley Civilization. The course of the river has changed since ancient
times as a result, it is believed, of earthquakes and other shifts of the
land. Today it is damned at Tarbela, at the foothills of the Himalayas
between Peshawar and Rawalpindi. Shortly after Pakistan became
independent in 1947, India, which was given the region with the river’s
headwaters by the British, shut the fl ow of water to the Indus, creat￾ing a grave crisis that took more than 15 years to resolve.
The Indus River, Pakistan’s principal waterway, has played an integral role in the
region’s history and culture. (Courtesy Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation)

are the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan. The Thar Desert serves as
a barrier between these Indian lands and Pakistan. Despite the absence
of any other barriers between these two states, historically they devel￾oped independently