Pakistan Approaches World Bank Over Indian Breach Of Indus Water Treaty

Indus Water Treaty continues to be a point of contention between India and Pakistan. A Pakistan delegation has left for the US to meet World Bank officials to discuss the Indus Waters Treaty and disagreements with India.  

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The Pakistani delegation led by Indus Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah will push for the complete implementation of the 1960 treaty.

The Pakistani side is anticipated to pitch for the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to address the ever-growing apprehensions over India’s two hydroelectric power projects – Kishanganga and Ratle.

Pakistan has questioned the construction of the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants being developed by India. Islamabad asserts that the design of the two hydroelectric plants violate the treaty that was brokered by the World Bank.

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“The plants are on respectively a tributary of the Jhelum and the Chenab Rivers,” says a WB fact sheet. “The Treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has unrestricted use.

Among other uses, under the Treaty, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the Treaty.”

Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Water Treaty is a World Bank-brokered settlement signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, between Pakistan and India to use the water available in the six rivers of the Indus system.

As per this agreement, India was given control over the water flowing in three eastern rivers – the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF), while Pakistan was given control over the water flowing in three western rivers – the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF.

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Breach Over Indus Water Treaty

Islamabad alleges that the Modi Government has started to obstruct the flow of three rivers that flow into Pakistan. New Delhi had stopped 0.53 million acre-feet of water from the three eastern rivers flowing into Pakistan.

Talks on the water disputes between India and Pakistan were held in August 2018 but ended without any major breakthrough.

Dispute Over Indus Water Treaty?

Even though India and Pakistan have been sharing the waters without major dispute, experts talking to EurAsian Times state that the agreement is not fairly negotiated as India is only allowed to use only 20% of the six-river Indus water system.

Pakistan recently sought an international arbitration if India sought to build hydropower projects on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers. Though the agreement has been seen as one of the most successful water-sharing pacts, the current tension between the two South Asian neighbours might well lead to a flashpoint. Experts say that future wars could well be fought over water.

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Can India Revoke The Indus Water Treaty?

The Indus Water Treaty has survived three wars between the two countries. Although India has often raised the issue, saying that for a treaty to work there had to be “mutual cooperation and trust” between the two sides, this seems to be more pressure tactics than any real threat to review the bilateral agreement.

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And the idea that India can frighten Pakistan by threatening to cut off river waters or release excess water during monsoon season is nothing new. A unilateral abrogation of the treaty could attract global criticism and New Delhi would only use the rivers as pressure tactics to threaten Pakistan.