NEW DELHI: In September, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a high-profile meeting with his aides to examine the Indus water treaty, signed between Pakistan and India.
The exercise indicated that the Indian government looking for reprisals against Pakistan after an attack in Indian held Kashmir that claimed the lives of 18 Indian troops. India held Pakistan responsible for its misrule in the Indian occupied Himalayan territory.
What is Indus Water Treaty?
Indus Water Treaty has been an agreement between Pakistan and India to share the water of the Indus basin rivers. President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru signed a river water-sharing agreement in Karachi on September 19, 1960 called the Indus Water Treaty. The treaty has become a major news focus after Narendra Modi led government in India considering to use the river water as a weapon of war against Pakistan after attack on its troops in Kashmir.
Indus Water Treaty deals with the water distribution and sharing of the six rivers of the Indus basin including three eastern rivers Beas, Sutlej, Ravi and the three western rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. The World Bank had brokered the agreement.
What the agreement says?
The waters of the eastern rivers are granted to India under the agreement and New Delhi is responsible to let flow the western rivers with 80% of water allocated to Pakistan. India is allowed to utilise 0.7 million acre feet (MAF) of water for agriculture use and can construct up to 3.6 million acre feet of storage facilities from the western rivers under the agreement.
The treaty is an agreement of fair distribution of water between the two countries –India and Pakistan.
The China angle
The water sharing agreement, however, not dealing the China’s role. The Indus originates from Tibet in China, which has been kept out of the Treaty. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan. Pakistan and India have not signed any agreement with China over the river water.
Can India repeal the agreement?
After the attack in Indian held Kashmir, Indian media carrying several stories about Modi government’s intentions to use the river water as the weapon, which flows from India to Pakistan.
The Indus Water Treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars. The neighboring country during every major conflict had threatened Pakistan to cut off the river water. Now it threatening to repeal the agreement.
Whether it is possible for India to get out of the 56 years old water treaty without consent of the other party? Such a drastic step will definitely be deemed as war cry against Pakistan.
Did India have huge reservoirs to deposit waters flowing in mighty Indus and other rivers and deprive Pakistan from its share of water forever?
India have similar water sharing treaties –the Ganges treaty with Bangladesh and Gandak treaty with Nepal. India with the abrogation of Indus treaty will create uncertainty and draw criticism from these neighbouring countries.
If India decides to abrogate the agreement, Pakistan can most likely take India to International Court of Justice and there are every chances of winning the case.
It is pertinent to mention here that both India and Pakistan are at loggerheads over various issues since their independence but after ratification of the Indus Water Treaty the complicated water issue has been successfully resolved with a mechanism to address the hiccups come in the implementation of the agreement.