Should India abrogate the Indus Waters Treaty?
September 23, 2016

Views (588)

Whenever tensions escalate between India and Pakistan, there are always a section of people advocating the abrogation of the IWT and limit the waters of Indus and its tributaries flowing into Pakistan. But is it a prudent option?

To know more about IWT please refer –

India should not abrogate the IWT.

  • It is the single most instrument of amicability between India and Pakistan which has stood the test of time, and has survived many wars and numerous times of escalated tensions between the two countries
  • India has given a benevolent share of water to Pakistan under the treaty. No other upper riparian country has given such a share to lower riparian country in the modern world.
  • Abrogation of the treaty will give a blow to India’s image of responsible emerging superpower in the world.
  • India will lose the voice in international fora if other neighbouring country such as China decides to do the same with India. Remember Brahmaputra, Sutlej, and Indus itself originates in China
  • Stopping waters of mighty Indus and its tributaries is not technically feasible. Even if India succeeds in doing so, it could only happen at the cost of inundation of several cities and villages in J&K, Punjab and other states. For example – Jammu and Srinagar will be permanently flooded if the waters of Indus is stored in huge quantities.
  • Water being sensitive issue for Pakistan, would mean retaliation from it. It may take the form of increased terrorist activities in India to full scale nuclear warfare.

So what are the options for India

  • India till date has not even utilized the rights available to it under the IWT. The eastern rivers ( Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi ) are underutilized. Moreover under IWT india is entitled to use western rivers for domestic, irrigation, and hydroelectric projects in a limited manner as prescribed under the IWT. Utilizing this potential itself gives economic as well as strategic advantage to India. This move is also important for fulfilling India’s developmental needs mostly in Kashmir and will also help in pacifying the irate Kashmiris.
  • India should re-negotiate the treaty – many experts believe that India has been too benevolent in the treaty and should renegotiate it in order to fulfill India’s (and particularly Kashmir’s) growing developmental needs. However any such move should be taken up in Peace time and not with a view to punish Pakistan but with a view to genuinely address India’s needs·
  • Even if India really wants to inflict wounds on Pakistan using water, there is another option. India could involve itself in making dam/project on river Kabul in Afghanistan. River Kabul is a major right bank tributary of Indus in Pakistan and supplies a lot of water to it. Restricting this flow can really hurt Pakistan.

All in all a clever maneuvering by India in and around Indus waters without even touching the IWT can give several advantages to India ranging from diplomatic and strategic advantages to economic and developmental advantages. This is more than enough to give jitters to Pakistan.