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Zardari wants Manmohan to deliver on his 'promise'

Pak President Asif Ali Zardari said he would ask PM Manmohan Singh to deliver on his promise to settle a row over the sharing of the waters of the Chenab river.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2008 20:19 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said he would ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to deliver on his promise to settle a row over the sharing of the waters of the Chenab river in line with the Indus Waters Treaty.

Zardari said he would write a letter to Singh to remind him of the promise the latter had made about resolving "the issue of reduced inflow of water in river Chenab at Marrala headworks" in Pakistan in accordance with the treaty signed in 1960, said a statement issued by the presidency.

The President made the remarks during a briefing on the construction of the Baglihar dam in India and the reported diversion of Pakistan's share of river waters, which has "adversely" affected agriculture and the economy, the statement said.

Singh had assured Zardari that India would address Pakistan's concerns over the sharing of river waters during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month. Zardari had also raised the water-sharing dispute with Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal during a meeting on Monday.

Zardari was briefed on the Baglihar dam by Pakistan's Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah, who recently visited India to inspect the project. The briefing was also attended by Water and Power Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Kamal Majidullah, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Water Resources, and other senior officials.

The President said letters should also be written to Muslim countries, the members of the Friends of Pakistan forum and Britain to draw their attention to the issue and the need to resolve the matter amicably in accordance with the treaty signed by the two countries.

Pakistan should vigorously pursue its case for compensation in the form of water from India for the loss of waters from the Chenab, Zardari said.

Zardari underlined that a proactive approach should be adopted in this regard to compel India to give Pakistan its rightful share of water.

During his briefing, Shah alleged India had violated the Indus Waters Treaty's provisions by reducing the flow in the Chenab river at the Maralla headworks below the level of 55,000 cusecs.

He alleged India had interfered with the flow of the Chenab by reducing the water level as compared to historical flows and this was a violation of the treaty's provisions.

Highlighting the adverse affect of the reduced flow, he said this would cause losses in cropped areas in Lahore, Kasur, Okara, Sialkot, Hafizabad, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad and Jhang districts. It would also cause the early depletion of water reserves at Mangla dam. Pakistan had rejected India's plea of discrepancy in data, Shah said.

Zardari said he had personally raised the water-sharing issue during his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister in New York last month and the National Security Advisors of both countries had discussed the matter in New Delhi this month.

Shah said that following intervention at the highest level, India had agreed to physical inspection of the Baglihar dam and a meeting of the Permanent Commission for Indus Waters but the issue of compensation is yet to be resolved.

First Published: Oct 29, 2008 20:15 IST