Indus Water Treay- an analysis
General Studies Paper 1- Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian subcontinent);
Q. Examine the importance of Indus water system in the agricultural economy of Indian subcontinent.
General Studies Paper 2- India and its neighborhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Q. How will the modulation in the Indus water treaty impact the Indo-Pak relationship? Critically discuss.
Q. The proposed reviewing of Indus Water Treaty by India has fraught major water security implications for the countries in the region especially Pakistan and China. Examine and Critically Evaluate in the light of the fact that India needs to safeguard its own Geostrategic interests.
“No armies with bombs and shellfire could devastate a land so thorough as Pakistan could be devastated by the simple expedient of India’s permanently shutting off the source of waters that keep the fields and people of Pakistan green”.-David Lilienthal, 1951.
WHY INDUS TREATY SO SIGNIFICANT?
The historic Indus water treaty is seen as a cornerstone of peaceful cooperation in water sharing around the world. The conclusion of the Indus Water Treaty was an achievement for both India and Pakistan. The Treaty is also an example of the effectiveness of the third-party mediation in dispute settlement.
The treaty brokered by the World Bank is being extolled as a model for international agreements on equitable water sharing and optimum utilization of the water resources of common rivers flowing across. For the past 56 years, Indus has acted as a symbol of goodwill between the two countries leaving aside the entire discontentment.
The Indus River is a major south-flowing river in South Asia. Originating in the western part of Tibet and flowing into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi making Pakistan the lower and India the upper riparian states.
Key features of the treaty
1.Under the Treaty, the waters of Eastern Rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and their tributaries) are allocated to India. India is under obligation to let flow the waters of the Western Rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and their tributaries) except for the following uses:
(a) Domestic Use,
(b) Non-consumptive use,
(c) Agricultural use as specified,
(d) Generation of hydro-electric power as specified
2.India has been permitted to construct storage of water on Western Rivers up to 3.6 MAF for various purposes. No storage has been developed so far.
3.India has been permitted Agricultural Use of 7, 01,000 acres over and above the Irrigated Cropped Area (ICA). Out of this additional ICA of only 2, 70,000 can be developed till storages are constructed and 0.5 MAF of water is released there from every year.
4.Under the Treaty, India and Pakistan have each created a permanent post of Commissioner for Indus Waters. They together constitute the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which is entrusted with the implementation of the Treaty.
5.Both sides are required to exchange information related to river flows observed by them, not later than three months of their observation and to exchange specified information on Agricultural Use every year.
Diplomacy over Indus
The increasing problem of terrorism from across the borders of Pakistan and recent attacks of Pathankot and Uri has forced India to take stringent actions. India can divert the flow of water to Pakistan but to do this India do not have enough infrastructures i.e., dams and diversion canals plus there is always fear of flooding in the valley if the waters are wrongly diverted.
Meanwhile, India can also harness the 20% of its share as it is still untouched and it can inflict damage to Pakistan within the boundaries of treaty.Furthermore, India is lower riparian country vis-à-vis; China is an upper riparian country with respect to Indus and Brahmaputra and China has better relations with Pakistan which can give options to china to put down India’s stand by diverting the rivers from its mouth.
In addition, India has maintained higher moral principles in relations to respecting the treaties which have provided higher place for the same in the region and if acted in other direction can have spillover effect adversely and other water sharing pacts in south-Asia.
While India is striving towards fighting the menace of terrorism, the geo-politics is distorted as major players like China and USA are hesitant in making any remarks over the issue. Clearly, China has much more to gain from Pakistan as it is making a leap with its CPEC policy and large investments in dam projects in Pakistan.
USA is also not keen in faulting relations with Pakistan as it is looked upon as tool to contain China. However, India can move swiftly and in a sound diplomatic way with the help of Afghanistan which is its ally. Therefore, if India makes any mistakes it will be consequential for India in a counterproductive manner. Since, India Pakistan relation is very strenuous in geo-political scenario and a lot is at stack.
India is very keen in stopping Pakistan from sponsoring terror across the region especially in India. To do so India can use it soft diplomacy to gain support of major world powers and diplomatically isolate Pakistan as seen recently in the model of “SAARC MINUS PAKISTAN”.
On an even stringent outlook India might use hard power like surgical strikes to combat terror camps operating in the Pakistan occupied regions responsible for planning terrorist activities in the south and central Asian region.
To do so India needs immediate support from all the victim countries in the region especially Russia and Afghanistan.
Therefore, India needs to foster support from all around the world with definite actions and in a diplomatic way without comprising its earlier gained respect and position around the world.
Many countries are now reckoning Pakistan as terror supporting nation, which is positive for India and it can make a pressure group along with these countries. But most importantly India needs to gain the confidence of USA and China as they are the ones who are sheltering Pakistan for their own benefit.
Altogether, India needs to plan its way ahead to tackle terrorism which is not only a bottleneck for India but also for whole world. Suspending talks over Indus water treaty is just a step to surround Pakistan and compel it stop all its illegitimate activities of supporting terror in the region .If moved hastily all the work done will be futile.
In an area like Indian subcontinent which so compactly interlinked and interdependent in resources, a regional arrangement on water resources seems highly desirable.
As a long tern solution, all riparian states needs to be consulted while harnessing an international watercourse. As we know, many rivers in South Asia originate from Tibet, a part of China and the Kabul River, a tributary of the Indus River originates from Afghanistan.
Therefore, a comprehensive agreement among Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan needs to be worked out. Such an agreement will ensure compliance with international law, and, at the same time, make cooperation among the parties smooth, reasonable and equitable.
Thus, if the states of South Asia especially Pakistan can be more forthcoming and cooperative; if they can leave their historical baggage behind and move forward with a sense of trust and understanding; and if they try to harness their potential under a regional mechanism, the peoples of South Asia could hope to enjoy a better and peaceful future.
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