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Why we should review the Indus Water Treaty

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Abhishek Jain
Abhishek Jain
Opinionated about every topic under the sun but opinions backed with hard fact. Right leaning writer with interests in Aviation, History and Politics. Tweeting from the handle @iabhishek_j .

A lot has happened since the terror attacks on 17th September 2016 at Army base in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir. We lost 19 brave soldiers in this attack by terrorists who had slipped in the base with the help of local sleeper cell. This made every Indian feel a sense of rage towards these cowards who attacked sleeping army men of Indian Army. Indians expected a response from GOI and Army after these attacks which was not just “Kadi Ninda”.. but a concrete action against Terrorists based in Pakistan Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Many suggest diplomatic isolation, some suggested armed intervention and few wanted India to have a rethink on Indus Water Treaty.

In the end, India responded with multilayer attack by first gaining International support in condemning terrorist attack and asking Pakistan government to stop terrorists from using Pakistan as a base, second and more important action by GOI was to order Surgical Strikes. These strikes took place on the night of 28th September, 10 days after the Uri attack. But here I want to touch upon the Indus water treaty which can still be reviewed by the GOI as a means to further teach Pakistan a lesson for allowing terror camps.

Indus Water Treaty of IWT was signed on 19th September 1960, it was one of the first of its kind treaty where there were 3 signatory parties involved i.e. The Indian Prime minister , The Pakistani Prime Minister and the Chief of World Bank. The treaty since then has stayed the same with WB maintaining a record of all the objections and being the intermediary body on this issue. To understand various points on this issue do read this excellent FAQ article written by Sanjay Dixit.

From what one can learn and understand is that many of those who said that India can’t go back to change the IWT terms are wrong. As per Article 253 of Indian constitution states that Parliament has the power to amend any international treaty signed if need be. More importantly IWT can be seen as the first and the original Himalayan blunder done by Nehru before the war of 1962 with China . Nehru not only allowed Pakistan to have 80% control of the water but also made sure this whole treaty was never debated properly in the Parliament. Here is a transcript of the said discussion where India under IWT had to pay amount of pound 62,060,000 in 10 installments to build canals and other water works on both side of the border.

As the image below shows, India as per the treaty controls Beas and Satlej and Pakistan controls Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi. But due to political indecision from various governments in India, we neither tapped the full potential of IWT or planned for contingency. Even now there are news of China stopping water of a tributary of Brahmaputra as a way to make India back out. This dam wasn’t build by China in a month, in same way India government needs to plan for the future for safety of Indian citizens.

Apart from Indus Water Treaty, three other agreements were signed in 1960. The first agreement was related to the establishment of an Indus Basin Development Fund (IBDF) of $ 894 million. Out of the total, $ 640 was contributed by friendly countries, such as Australia, Canada, West Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The IBDF agreement was signed between Pakistan and aforementioned friendly countries. To facilitate the agreement, India also contributed $ 174 million, and $ 80 million was given from the proceeds of the World Bank loan to Pakistan. The fund was mainly collected for the transfer of infrastructure and construction of replacement works on western rivers.  The second agreement was signed between Pakistan and the World Bank for a loan of $ 90 million. The last agreement covered a loan of $ 70 million from the US Development Loan Fund.

The above excerpt is from an academic journal published in 2015 which clearly states that India along with friendly countries were paying to build water works on the western side( Pakistani Side of the border). Again if Nehru had thought about Indian interest first he would have asked for more autonomous power on IWT. But due to his love for Pakistan he made sure that India suffers for the time to come. Jammu & Kashmir which rightfully needs more water for irrigation purposes loses due to this treaty. Right now IWT dispute between India-Pakistan is about 80% water control and 20% water allocation. In its original form the treaty was suppose to divide the 5 rivers of Indus basin, 3 were given to Pakistan which were flowing to western Punjab and 2 were allocated to India.

But now after bleeding time and again due to Pakistan’s 1000 cuts policy, GOI should have a rethink on IWT which it can under the current circumstances. People of India and especially the people of Jammu and Kashmir need to unite in asking GOI to act in the interest of India. Even if GOI reviews IWT now it will not be able to stop any water flowing to Pakistan permanently as we didn’t build any dams which we could have under the existing treaty. But even if we embark on this path, future governments down the line will have this option in place to be used as a deterrent against Pakistan’s terror proxy war.

I hope that this government doesn’t back down in doing the needful so that Pakistan bears the cost of its terror policy as well as Indian people gaining what was always rightfully theirs. In the end we have so far cornered Pakistan and to complete the isolation globally India needs to act and take every measure available in the National Interest. Reviewing Indus Water treaty is one such step which needs to be taken & with majority in Parliament the current GOI under PM Modi should do what’s required. Our soldiers are fighting a tough battle on LOC & IB, it’s important that political parties also come together to give full support to our armed forces.

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Abhishek Jain
Abhishek Jain
Opinionated about every topic under the sun but opinions backed with hard fact. Right leaning writer with interests in Aviation, History and Politics. Tweeting from the handle @iabhishek_j .
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