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.”

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