“A river doesn’t just carry water, it carries life.”
(Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words)
More than seven decades, and these two important countries of South Asia are struck between themselves and their unlimited and unsolved problems. The one main cause of all the problems is Kashmir and the second one is “water”.
Indus water treaty
On 19th September, 1960 there was one treaty signed between India and Pakistan which brokered by the World Bank. According to this treaty, the water rights on each river is fixed by the respective states. The Indus River flows through the disputed Kashmir area in south-western Tibet’s autonomous region of China into the Arabian Peninsula. It has many affluent, including the eastern Punjab plains, which are Jhelum, Chenab, Sutlej, Ravi and Beas. Since olden days, the Indus River system has been used for irrigation. Approximately 1850, modern irrigation works started. The era of British rule in India saw the construction of large canal systems and the revitalization and modernization of old canal systems and flooding channels. But in 1947 Britain’s India was divided and an independent India and West Pakistan was created (later called Pakistan). This subdivided the water system, which included headwaters in India and canals running across Pakistan. Following the expiry of the 1947 Still Summit agreement, India began to withhold water from canals flowing into Pakistan on 1 April 1948. In the Inter-Dominion agreement of 4 May 1948, India was obliged to make annual payments of water supply for the Pakistani portions of the basin. The purpose of this too was to be a stop-off measure, with further discussions aimed at a permanent solution. The treaty gave river Jhelum, Chenab and Indus to Pakistan and Ravi, Sutlej and Beas to India. It also financed and built dams, canals, dams and tube pools—including Tarbela Dam on the river Indus and Mangla Dam on the river Jhelum, respectively. This helped Pakistan to receive water in the quantities previously allocated to India from the rivers. A great deal of funding was made available by World Bank Member States. In order to keep a channel for communication and to try to solve issues relating to the implementation of the agreement a permanent Indus Commission with a commissioner from each country was required under the Treaty. There was also a dispute settlement process.
The current water crisis
India is now building dams and hydro power units on the rivers of Pakistan, because all the rivers entering in Pakistan are flowing form India’s side. Now Pakistan’s narrative is that India is changing the natural flow way of the rivers by constructing Pakal Dal and Lower Kalnai hydroelectric plants in Jammu and Kashmir and this is also against the Indus Water Treaty. But India is defending the point that they are allowed to build the dams on rivers but the real point is they are changing the natural flow way of rivers, as mentioned in the Indus Water Treaty it is not allowed to change the natural flow way of the rivers.
Kishangana Project is also creating the same disturbance in the waters. It is also a hydroelectric power project in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, many other hydropower projects India has cleared but still there is chance for the discussion about those projects in upcoming meeting.
According to the Indus Water Treaty, every year one member from each country has to come to the meeting and discuss about the issues. But since 2019, no meeting is held. Last year the meeting has been canceled due to the covid pandemic happening all over the world. This year the meeting is going to happen in coming days, and hope so the issues between Pakistan and India has been solved.
Security threats towards South Asia
As we all know about the crisis between India and Pakistan, this water crisis situation if not resolved can be trigger the security threats of both the states. Both countries are located in the South Asia and plays the main role in the stability of the region. If any escalation or disturbance happens between these two states, then the whole thing in the region of south Asia will be disturbed.
So avoid the war and any kind of disturbance and for the sake of peace in the region and in the world, both countries have to resolved the issues. They need to arrange bilateral dialogues for the peace purpose and obviously for the betterment of the states.
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