ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office warned India on Thursday that any move to block the flow of water to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) would be considered “an act of aggression”.

FO Spokesman Dr Moha­m­mad Faisal at his weekly media briefing reminded India of Pakistan’s “exclusive rights” under the IWT to receive water from the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers and said that “any attempt to divert flows of these rivers will be considered an act of aggression and Pakistan has the right to respond”.

He said Pakistan would exercise the appropriate options available to it.

The spokesman was responding to a statement by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during an election rally in Haryana, in which he said: “For 70 years, water that belonged to Haryana’s farmers and us flowed to Pakistan. … But, this Modi will stop that water and bring it to your houses. I have already started working on it. The water belongs to India and farmers of Haryana.”

Blocking Indus water flow to be an act of aggression, India warned

Dr Faisal said that such irresponsible statements reflected India’s aggressive designs and prove that it had no regard for human rights and international obligations.

It is feared that agriculture, hydropower generation and environment in water-stressed Pakistan could suffer if India restricted the water supply.

In reply to a question about Kashmir, the spokesman said that the Modi government’s move to annex occupied valley in August has “led India into a cul de sac”. The Indian government, he said, was not only facing international criticism, but was also being severely criticised at home.

“India has been cornered and isolated because of its atrocities and gross human rights violations in India-occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” he maintained.

Commenting on the Ayo­dhya dispute in which the Ind­ian Supreme Court has res­erved its verdict, the spo­kesman expressed the hope that the judgment would “reflect sentiments of the Muslim minority in India”.

Erdogan visit

Dr Faisal confirmed that the upcoming visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been postponed.

Mr Erdogan was expected to visit Pakistan on October 23.

The spokesman did not give any reason for the postponement of the visit, but it is believed that the visit is being re-scheduled because of Turkish operation against Syrian Kurds and Turkey’s rising tensions with the US.

Expressing solidarity with Turkey, the spokesman said: “Turkey has remained a victim of terrorism for a long time and we need to recognise its legitimate security concerns.”

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2019