[Answered] Pakistan, by waging a constant propaganda battle against India on the waters issue, risks undermining the Indus treaty. Substantiate

The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank in 1960.

Provisions of the treaty:-

  • Control over the three “eastern” rivers: the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, was given to India
  • While the water of three “western” rivers: the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum was given to Pakistan.
  • Since western rivers flow through India first, the treaty allowed India to use them for irrigation, transport and power generation.
  • The agreement set up a commission to adjudicate any future disputes arising over the allocation of waters.
  • In cases of disagreement, a neutral expert is called in for mediation and arbitration.

How India followed Treaty’s provisions:-

  • In Asia, the vast majority of the 57 transnational river basins have no water-sharing arrangement or any other cooperative mechanism.
  • While India has water-sharing treaties with both the countries located downstream to it, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • While another Asian power China is not having a single water-sharing arrangement with any co-riparian state.
  • 80.52 per cent of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system is reserved for Pakistan, which is 90 times greater volume of water than Mexico’s share under a 1944 pact with the U.S.
  • It is the only water agreement in the world which seeks to compel an upriver state to defer to the interests of a downstream state.
  • India has followed the terms of treaty even though water is J&K’s main natural resource and essential for economic development.

How Pakistan used the treaty:-

  • Although Run-of-the-river projects are permitted by the Indus treaty, but  Pakistan wants no Indian works on the three “western rivers” and seeks international arbitration by invoking the treaty’s dispute-settlement provisions repeatedly.
  • By aiming to deny J&K the limited benefits permissible under the treaty, Pakistan wishes to further its strategy to foment discontent and violence there.
  • In 2010 while Pakistan went for arbitration proceedings to suspend the works of India’s Kishanganga project, it ramped up construction of its own three-times-larger, Chinese-aided hydropower plant on the same river.
  • Allowing China to build mega dams such as the 7,000-megawatt Bunji Dam and the 4,500-megawatt Bhasha Damon the same river has made the issue more complex.

Options with India

  • India has the option to dissolve the treaty altogether as International Court of Justice has upheld the principle that a treaty may be dissolved by reason of a fundamental change of circumstances.
  • India can withdraw from the treaty according to Article 62 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, against the use of state-reared terrorist groups.
  • While there is no enforcement mechanism in international law, India is not bound to follow the treaty.
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