Prime Minister Narendra Modi met senior officials on Monday to review the “pros and cons” of the India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty amid growing pressure on New Delhi to scrap the agreement.
Sources said the meeting would discuss “legal, political and diplomatic” options related to the 56-year-old treaty that binds India and Pakistan into sharing the water of six major rivers and has survived three wars and repeated strains in bilateral ties.
The NDA government is contemplating reviewing the treaty in the aftermath of a militant attack in Kashmir’s Uri that killed 18 soldiers.
India blames Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the worst strike against the army in decades and many believe scrapping the treaty – which would lead to millions of acres of parched farmland in Pakistan – will force Islamabad to mend its ways.
Experts, however, say it would be difficult for India to renegotiate the treaty signed in September 1960 that is among the most liberal water-sharing pacts in the world and is seen to be generous to Pakistan.
Any attempt at revoking the agreement – which gives lower riparian Pakistan more “than four times” the water available to India – might invoke similar actions from China on the Brahmaputra.
“Indus Waters Treaty is international treaty and we are a responsible country. Can’t behave irresponsibly at the international level,” former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal told ANI.
Under the treaty signed by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan president Ayub Khan, the water of six rivers - Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum - were to be shared between the two countries. The pact was brokered by the World Bank.