Indus Water Treaty is a landmark: Soz

Both India and Pak showed strong resolve in abiding by the treaty despite hostilities, the minister said, reports Faisul Yaseen.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2006 18:47 IST

Terming the Indus Water Treaty, a landmark one, Union Minister for Water Resources Saifuddin Soz on Monday said that though India had some reservations against it, both New Delhi and Islamabad had abided by it despite years of hostile relations and a number of wars between the two.

"Now the arbitration by the World Bank on the issue should be acceptable to both New Delhi and Islamabad," Soz told media persons in 'Meet the Press' programme organised by the Press Club of Jammu.

The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-sharing treaty between New Delhi and Islamabad signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistan President Mohammad Ayub Khan.

The World Bank, the then International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) is a signatory as a third party. "Though initially something went wrong. We could have avoided certain clauses in the treaty with which we've some perceived disadvantages. However, both India and Pakistan have shown tremendous resolve in abiding by the treaty despite hostile relations and wars," Soz said.

The Union Water Resources minister also did not turn down the suggestions of the joint management on the Baglihar Dam, a project in the river Chenab in Chanderkote area of southern Doda district of state's Jammu province near LoC.

"There is an embargo in Pakistan. There is an embargo in India," he said shrugging off the query.

Soz who spoke for the opposition National Confernece seeking greater autonomy for the state and is now a senior Congress leader said, "When in 1990 while the state was seeing bloodshed and flattering of guns, I talked of autonomy. Then I talked of autonomy because I saw it as a middle path as people of the state then were talking of accession with Pakistan. It was aimed at reconciliation. Today the situation in the state is different and dialogue both within the state as well with New Delhi and Islamabad should be the priority."

However, he didn't forthrightly turn down PDP's concept of self-rule and NC's concept of greater autonomy for the state and said only discussions would bring a long-lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.

"I am yet to understand PDP's self-rule and NC's greater autonomy. But personally my concept of Kashmir resolution is unity within the three regions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh," he said.

About the allegations of the construction of a dam being carried by Beijing on the river Brahamaputra in their territory, Soz informed that all which had came to the light so far was through the Google search engine through the search engine's Earth satellite. "We know
how to protect our water rights. External Affairs ministry is dealing with China on the issue," he said.

"New Delhi should forget the bitter past with China," he said referring to the 1962 Indo-China war following which China occupied a huge portion of Jammu and Kashmir's territory in Ladakh.
"Now China is not in a mood to add insult to our injuries," he added.

He also called upon New Delhi to engage the people of the state and all separatists in the dialogue process besides continuing dialogue with Islamabad. "All separatists should be engaged in parleys," he said seemingly referring to New Delhi's failure in including hardline
Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani in the dialogue process.

Terming the Sacher Committee report a landmark document, he accepted that the consecutive governments over the years had failed in providing education to the Muslims. "There are no schools in Muslim belts for distances of hundreds of km. And when there are no schools,
they are replaced due to the compulsion by Madrassas," Soz said.

President Press Club of Jammu Manu Srivatsa who presided over the function said that the Club had become one of the best in north India in the last few years. Press Club of Jammu general secretary Sohail Kazmi presented the vote of thanks.

First Published: Nov 20, 2006 18:47 IST