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ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in both houses of parliament on Tuesday warned India against taking any steps to deprive Pakistan of its share of water under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), saying that any such act would be seen as an act of war.

Meanwhile in the National Assembly, PM’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that if India tried to interrupt water flows into Pakistan, “it will provide China, for example, a justification to consider suspension of waters of the Brahmaputra River”.

Taking strong exception to Indian posturing regarding the unilateral revocation of the 56-year-old treaty, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani observed: “India has no legal [right] under the treaty to revoke or review it on its own.”

“Interference with Pakistan’s water supply will be tantamount to an act of aggression and aggression will be met by aggression,” the chairman observed before allowing other members to speak on the matter.

Mr Rabbani said India was “continuously complicating relations with Pakistan and has added yet another issue in the one-way onslaught and tirade against Pakistan” by threatening to revoke the water treaty.

Referring to Article 12(4) of the treaty, he said the treaty could only be terminated if both India and Pakistan agreed in writing. “Any unilateral revocation, withdrawal, suspension or annulment will be considered a breach of the treaty in terms of international law,” he added.

Mr Rabbani called for reviewing all agreements, engagements and involvements with India if New Delhi considered revoking the treaty and referred the issue to the Senate Committee on Water and Power, which would report back to a Committee of the Whole House that has already been constituted to “prepare policy guidelines in the light of emerging regional realities”.

The Committee of the Whole House will hold an in-camera session on Thursday to review the Pakistan-India relationship in the light of the current situation. Mr Rabbani has asked Sartaj Aziz and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif to brief the committee.

PPP’s Sherry Rehman, who introduced an adjournment motion on the subject, termed the use of water as a weapon of war “dangerous and irresponsible”.

PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was acting like an “irresponsible head of a rogue state”.

“Thank God, we have a nuclear bomb,” he said, adding that Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the UN was akin to the “rage of the impotent”.

“The provocative actions and statements of the Indian leadership on the revocation of the treaty are a blatant violation of international law. [These] threats of water war are part of a military, economic and diplomatic campaign to build pressure on Pakistan in the wake of our efforts to expose Indian savageries in India-held Kashmir,” Mr Aziz told the National Assembly.

He said that India had already damaged its credentials by even considering the suspension of the treaty. “The treaty survived the wars of 1965 and 1971; it was not even suspended during the Siachen and Kargil conflicts... its revocation can be taken as an act of war or a hostile act against Pakistan.”

He also revealed that Pakistan was considering approaching the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on the dangers of such an action.

“If the suspension of the treaty is an act of war, will we respond in kind,” Dr Shireen Mazari asked the adviser. She also disputed Mr Aziz’s contention that the World Bank was a guarantor of the treaty, saying that it had merely acted as a facilitator.

Even though Mr Aziz corrected himself after several members repeated Dr Mazari’s question, he was of the opinion that the World Bank could help in case India decided to go against the treaty. He also conceded that he wasn’t up-to-speed on the provisions of the treaty and promised to get back to the members after a perusal of the same.

“We are preparing a dossier on Indian interference in Pakistan, exposing Kulbushan Yadav’s network in Balochistan and through Afghanistan,” Mr Aziz told the house when asked why the spy network unearthed in Balochistan was not raised in the PM’s UN speech.

The lower house also unanimously adopted a resolution, moved by PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar, condemning New Delhi’s false claim about Jammu and Kashmir being an integral part of India. The resolution resented “the parallels drawn between J&K, a recognised disputed territory, and Balochistan, [which is] an integral part of sovereign Pakistan”.

“The hostile environment being perpetuated by the current Indian government and its apparent leaning towards total war hysteria will not be in the best interest of the region,” it concluded.

The question of convening a joint session of parliament on the issue was also raised by Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah. Law Minister Zahid Hamid told the house that the treasury was already planning on convening a joint sitting next week, either on Monday or Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2016