ISLAMABAD: The Senate was told on Friday that India could not unilaterally modify the Indus Waters Treaty.

On India’s move to seek revision of the Indus Waters Treaty, PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the issue was linked with the future of the country. He said Pakistan had still not given an effective, solid and bold response over January 25 notice.

Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, while responding to a calling-attention notice in the Senate moved by Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem and others, stressed that the treaty could not be changed until both parties — Pakistan and India — agreed.

Confirming that Pak­istan had received a vague letter from India on January 25 seeking the revision of the Indus Waters Treaty, she claimed that it had been done by Modi’s government for internal consumption as elections were due in India next year.

Minister proposes separate court to hear constitutional matters

She said they kept on looking for issues they could introduce in toxic discourse and recalled that the water issue had been raised during the previous elections as well.

She said India had accused Pakistan of violating the Indus Waters Treaty, but there was no clarity on how it had been done.

“We feel it has been deliberately done to provoke domestic audience,” she remarked. Ms Rehman said the prime minister had been given a briefing while deliberations had also been held on it with the stakeholders, followed by a response to India on April 1.

The minister said: “The Permanent Indus Commi­ssion as defined in the Treaty is the appropriate forum to raise and discuss any concerns. Pak­istan is, therefore, happy to engage on any outstanding issue regarding the treaty at the level of the Permanent Indus Commission.”

Ms Rehman said that Pakistan was not panicking on the issue and was vigilant about its water resources.

“The Indus Waters Trea­ty, 1960, has survived all kinds of tensions between the two countries and has played a vital role in managing the water resources between India and Pakistan. Pakistan is committed to the treaty and expects India to comply with it,” the minister said.

She said that Pakistan had timely raised objections to the construction of controversial dams, including Baglihar, Kishan Ganga and Ratle, by India on the rivers meant for Pakistan. Ms Rehman said that work was under way to enhance water storage capacity in the country.

She said work was also in progress on Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams while 16 small- and medium-size dams were to be built in Sindh.

“The reason is that we are too busy fighting among ourselves,” Senator Sayed said, adding that national unity was must to counter India. He said that China during his recent tour had given a message that all political parties should talk for interest of Pakistan and its people by going beyond their party lines and personal political affiliations.

Constitutional court

Another highlight of the day’s proceedings was Minister of State for Law and Justice Shahadat Awan’s proposal to form a separate court to hear constitutional cases, besides a federal Supreme Court for normal cases.

Responding to a calling-attention notice on the issue of pending cases, the minister revealed there were more than 380,436 cases pending in superior courts.

Giving a break-up of the pending cases, he said the Supreme Court had 51,744 cases, the Lahore High Court had 179,425 cases, the Sindh High Court had 85,779 cases, the Peshawar High Court had 41,911 cases, the Balochistan High Court had 4,471 cases and the Islamabad High Court had 17,104 cases. Additionally, the Federal Shariat Court had 103 pending cases, he said.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2023

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