Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a high-level meeting on Monday to look into the possibility of revisiting a water-sharing treaty with Pakistan that has survived decades of frosty ties and three wars, a top government official said.
“The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi will be looking at the pros and cons of the pact,” senior government official said.
The Indus Waters Treaty of September 19, 1960, between India and Pakistan, is one of the most liberal water-sharing pacts in the world.
Under the treaty, which was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan president Ayub Khan, the water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — is shared between the two countries.
The pact, brokered by the World Bank, survived three wars between the two countries and constant strain in their bilateral ties.
There is now a clamour to use the pact to bring the neighbour to mend its ways after the Uri attack proved Pakistan is both unable and unwilling to stop its territory from being used by terrorists against India.
The Indus agreement deals with six rivers — the three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries and the three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and their tributaries. Water from the eastern rivers has been allocated to India, and New Delhi is obligated to let 80% water from the western rivers flow to Pakistan.
The Indus water treaty gives the lower riparian Pakistan more “than four times” the water available to India. Despite such liberal terms, Pakistan and India have often sparred over the amount of water released.
Reviewing the treaty, however, will be a difficult proposition for India.
Pakistan’s all-weather ally China is the upper riparian state in the Brahmaputra, a river that flows into India’s northeast. Making any precedent in which an upper riparian state is overbearing can give hints to Beijing on the water-sharing issue, which doesn’t augur well for India.