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India threatens to scrap Indus Treaty

May 24, 2002

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GUWAHATI, May 23: India could take diplomatic action by scrapping the 42-year-old Indus Water Treaty, thereby choking the flow of water to Pakistan, Water Resources Minister Bijoya Chakroborty said on Thursday.

“If we decide to scrap the Indus Water Treaty, then there will be drought in Pakistan and the people of that country would have to beg for every drop of water,” Chakraborty said in Guwahati, the capital of Assam.

Any decision on whether or not to abrogate the 1960 treaty, which was signed at the behest of the World Bank, will have to be taken by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and his cabinet.

“There is a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission in New Delhi next week between both countries, but we are yet to decide whether to go ahead with the meeting or cancel it,” Chakroborty said.

The commission, comprising Pakistani and Indian officials, was set up to establish and maintain cooperation for implementing the treaty and for settling disputes on water sharing.

Under the Indus Water Treaty, three rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — were allocated to India and another three rivers — Indus, Jhelum and the Chenab — largely to Pakistan. However, India has also been permitted to use, to a limited extent, water of western rivers for agriculture and power generation.

Analysts said, however, that stopping the flow of water into Pakistan would take a long time.

“It is not as if we can turn off the tap in an hour. India cannot stop the waters without creating large reservoirs,” said Commodore Uday Bhaskar, deputy director of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis.

He said any tampering with the treaty would need to be carefully considered as it had survived two previous wars between the two countries.

Occupied Kashmir’s legislative assembly has passed a resolution warning the Indian government against “bartering” water to Pakistan, saying this was affecting agriculture in the region.

“We are exporting water to Pakistan and in return Pakistan is exporting cross-border terrorism,” a lawmaker was quoted as saying in the assembly recently.—AFP