India, Pakistan discuss water-sharing treaty
India and Pakistan held discussions on sharing river water despite an ongoing diplomatic spat.
Under the Indus Water Treaty — which was signed in 1960, and covers the water-sharing and distribution rights of six rivers — it is mandatory for representatives of the two countries to meet once a year, alternately in both countries.
According to the treaty, water from the three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — is reserved for Pakistan, while water from the eastern rivers — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas — is reserved for India.
The latest round of discussions, held in India, reportedly centered on two hydroelectric power plants that New Delhi is building in Jammu and Kashmir: The 1,000-megawatt (MW) Pakal Dul dam, and the 48-MW Lower Kalnai dam.
Pakistan says the dams could violate the treaty. At the end of the twoday meet, which concluded Friday, New Delhi reportedly agreed to let Islamabad inspect its projects in the Indus River Basin.
Pakistan has in the past objected to other Indian projects, including an 850-MW power plant in Ratle on the Chenab river, and a 330-MW one in Kishanganga on the Jhelum river.
“The fact that despite diplomatic altercations the two sides met shows there’s a will to stay engaged and we’re committed to the treaty,” said Ashok Behuria, a senior fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyzes in New Delhi.
But Pakistan has a history of objecting to India’s projects and has tried to mar its reputation, he added.
“The mindset in Islamabad is whatever India is doing is to threaten Pakistan and create obstacles to its growth and success,” Behuria said.
“The treaty provisions are clear, and India hasn’t tried to play truant against them. But there’s a vocal tradition in Pakistan that keeps drilling into the minds of innocent Pakistanis that India is stealing water… It has become politically very fertile for them to make use of this rhetoric.”