The Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has survived many watersheds in Indo-Pak relations and also represents a source of cooperation rather than conflict. However, Pakistan’s strategy of bleeding India through a thousand cuts is forcing India to rethink about the Water Sharing Treaty.
As India continues its campaign to isolate Pakistan and resorting to different measures to hammer in some sense into the heads of the generals in Islamabad who dictate the Foreign Policy of Pakistan. Nawaz’s last minute call to COAS, of Pakistan Raheel Shareef, makes it amply clear who is running the show in Pakistan. Shareef’s gamble of provoking the Indians have succeeded but with dangerous consequences for both the countries. For the first time, India has hinted it could go to the next extreme and choke Pakistan dry by abrogating the Indus Treaty.It is a significant development albeit a very dangerous one.
If India breaks the treaty, the ramifications are immense. It will affect 60% population of Pakistan and will precipitate unprecedented droughts and famines, which will affect most of the large cities. Since India has numerous dams and reservoirs in these rivers, it could easily choke water supply to Pakistan.
The consequences for the country are also immense. Firstly it could lead to enormous ecological damage. Without proper storage facility, the bread basket of India could be inundated with water. It could also result in a quid pro quid by China, the all weather friend of Pakistan by stopping the flow of Brahmaputra River, the lifeline of the Northeast.
The Indus Water Treaty came after a prolonged and exhaustive deliberation by the World Bank. The Treaty gives India full rights over the resources of the eastern rivers, i.e. Sutlej, Beas and Ravi while the western rivers comprising Jhelum, Chenab and Indus were to be used by India in a “non-consumptive” manner. The treaty is considered one of the most successful waters sharing agreement between any two nations.
Better way Out
Experts, however, say that India will not have to stop the water and violate the agreement. All it needs to do is to use its rights on the western rivers, something which it has never done before. The waters of the western rivers can be used for irrigation, production of electricity etc as per the provisions of the treaty. It would be a strong signal without doing anything drastic.