Scrapping Indus-Water Treaty?
Indians feel that Pakistan needs to be punished for the acts of cross border terrorism. Since war is a costly option and has the potential of escalating to a nuclear conflict, both countries would like to avoid a full scale war. PM analyzed the option of scrapping the over five-decade-old Indus Water Treaty. The treaty, signed in 1960, has been the most successful treaty between India and Pakistan on the water sharing arrangement between the two nations and has stood several conflicts and tensions. In this blog I have analyzed the pros and cons of “Scrapping Indus Water Treaty”
Understanding Indus Water Treaty
The treaty, brokered by the World Bank, was ratified by both India and Pakistan after several years of deliberations in 1960. The water of Western Rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was allotted to Pakistan and Easter Rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Beas to India. Some limited use for navigation, power generation and irrigation of the Western rivers is permitted to India.
In reality a large quantity of water from the three Eastern Rivers also flows into Pakistan.
The treaty has stood the test of time.
Scrapping of Indus Water Treaty
Abrogation of the treaty has the potential to bring Pakistan to her knees because the water is essential for the survival of the population. The potency of water as an instrument of war is more than a nuclear weapon. Water deprived population can:
- Be instigated to war against India, or
- Provoked to revolt against Pakistan’s government and Army.
Feasibility of Scrapping of Treaty
Creation of infrastructure to prevent the flow Western Rivers into Pakistan would take 10-15 years and will face several problems like:
- Generate international opinion against India.
- All Human Rights organizations will get against India.
- India will not be able to justify the action.
Thus, abrogation of the treaty appears to be an impractical option. There are fears expressed that China will reduce the flow of Brahmaputra River water into India as a counter to India abrogating the Indus Water Treaty. China, unlike Pakistan, is a sensible nation. It is unlikely to indulge in any such action. It should also be noted that if China feels the need to utilize Brahmaputra water for her needs then it will do so. Water is a scarce resource and it will be a cause of major international as well as internal tensions in the future. In any case China is not bound by any treaty on the subject.
India should Use Eastern Rivers More
The Eastern Rivers also flow through Pakistan, Ravi being the main, flowing next to Lahore. India should create infrastructure to utilize more water of these rivers and allow much lesser to go to Pakistan. This will help irrigate our areas better and reduce the water flow into Pakistan. The action would be totally legitimate, being in accordance with the treaty. It will hurt Pakistan. It will also be an act of coercive diplomacy and must be undertaken.
Indus Water Treaty: Recommendations
- Scrapping of the treaty is not recommended as it is impractical.
- India must use greater quantity of Rivers Ravi, Sutlej and Beas to improve our economy and hurt Pakistan.
- India should not be concerned about China countering any move by us in controlling the flow of water into Pakistan.