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Walking on water

After having put it on hold following the terrorist attack on Uri military camp in September, India resumed talks on the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan on Monday.

Published: 21st March 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2017 09:54 PM   |  A+A-

After having put it on hold following the terrorist attack on Uri military camp in September, India resumed talks on the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan on Monday.

After Independence and Partition in 1947, Pakistan was deeply concerned that India could use water as a pressure point since all six rivers which flow into Pakistan have their headwaters in Kashmir.  


Signed in September 1960 after nine years of intense negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, the treaty allots waters from three western rivers (the Jhelum, the Chenab, and the Indus itself) to Pakistan, while the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas, and the Sutlej) were allocated to India.

Described as one of the most constructive treaties ever, it has survived three wars and constant friction between the two nations. According to the World Bank, most disputes have been settled via legal procedures, and the treaty is considered one of the most successful water sharing endeavours in the world today.


In fact, the Indus Commission, comprising officials from both sides even met during war, and also when all other bilateral talks were frozen following various acts of terror perpetuated by jihadis trained and armed by Pakistan.

Which is why there was much consternation in Pakistan when Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared “blood and water cannot flow together”, after the Uri attack.

A commission meeting was cancelled and Modi even threatened to review the treaty. Later, officials clarified that while India would not violate the treaty, it would fast track certain projects to ensure that it did not lose out on its fair share of water.

Within months, India cleared hydropower projects worth $15bn in Kashmir. Earlier this month, however, India relented and agreed to send a team led by Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena to Islamabad. But those expecting any spectacular breakthroughs during the talks are advised not to hold their breath.

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