Monday March 27, 2023

Pakistan pre-empts Indian water threats

November 26, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan had preempted Indian threats that it was now going to use water as the new weapon of war, and had in time warned world capitals that they “must assume a responsibility to develop, nurture and protect normative frameworks, at multilateral and bilateral levels, to ensure that states remain willing to resolve water issues cooperatively.” 

Prime Minister Modi on Friday while speaking to a rally in Punjab threatened, “Under the Indus Water Treaty, India has the right over water of Satluj, Beas and Ravi rivers. It rightfully belongs to our farmers, but this water is not reaching the farmer's field, instead the water is flowing to Pakistan and eventually going to the sea. Governments came and went in Delhi, but farmers kept suffering as water continued to flow to Pakistan. Not any-more, I will ensure that farmers get what is rightfully theirs”.

It is not uncommon to hear Indian leaders hit out at Pakistan whenever they are in election mode, whether they are campaigning in Kashmir, Punjab or any other part of India. Under great pressure at home, after having failed to deliver and now his de-monetization policy playing havoc with the lives of ordinary Indians, with the Indian rupee hitting a record low, Modi is using the guise of water wars to win domestic sympathy and support.

The situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) is one for which New Delhi has no answers, and as questions are being raised in important world capitals behind closed doors, Modi has now tried to provoke Pakistan and draw attention on an issue which is life or death for lower riparian. 

“This water is neither being utilized by Pakistan nor does it come in Indian farmers destiny. I have set-up a task force. I'm committed to ensure that every single drop of water, which is rightfully ours, under the Indus Water Treaty, is brought to the farmers in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of the country,” Modi pointed out.

Unlike many other bilateral treaties and understandings between the two neighbors, the 1960 World Bank-mediated Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived till date despite of wars between the two sides.

Till Modi’s latest threats, this treaty has ensured that water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — are to be shared between the two countries.

Earlier Advisor on Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz had tried to send a subtle message to New Delhi that if it tries to interrupt water flow into Pakistan, it will not only violate the Indus Waters Treaty, but also set a regional state practice under which international law can be served as a precedent. "It will provide China, for example, a justification to consider suspension of waters of the Brahmaputra river," he had commented.

In fact China had not too long back, blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro project, which at any time could have a severe impact on all lower riparian countries.

Earlier this week, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said in her address to the UN Security Council during an open debate on water, peace and security, that the  Indus Water Treaty of 1960, between Pakistan and India, with the World Bank as guarantor, as “a model of what can be achieved through bilateral agreements”.

“Access to water is a fundamental right that must be protected at all times. We will respect and protect our existing understandings and build where they are yet to be reached. The international community must remain vigilant to any sign of unwillingness to maintain cooperation and be willing act to avert any conflict,” she said. 

Lodhi emphasized that it was the Security Council’s responsibility to resolve international conflicts and disputes, especially longstanding, prolonged conflicts, in particular in Asia and Africa. “Unburdened by conflicts of the past, new challenges can then be addressed cooperatively and comprehensively”, she advised.