Issue Brief on “A New Round of Water Talks Between Pakistan – India”

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) devised a mechanism for an equitable distribution of water between Pakistan and India. However, India has been building a number of dams under the garb of run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects, acquiring the capability to manipulate the flow of water. Pakistan has been raising this issue both with India and at various forums. Unaddressed Pakistani complaints can become a serious source of conflict between India and Pakistan. Water security problems are particularly severe in the regions where numerous major international river basins lie, and are subject to territorial disputes between various countries. The two countries which exemplify such problems in South Asia are nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and India. Groundwater is depleting at an alarming rate in both countries, with few feasible options to increase supply.

The Indus Basin system is the major water reservoir in the Subcontinent. It comprises six major rivers: three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) and three eastern rivers (Sutlej, Beas and Ravi). It cuts across both Pakistan and India. With partition arose the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory in northern India from where the Indus river system originates and passes through both countries. India emerged as an upper riparian with control over the canal headworks that supplied water to the province of Pakistani Punjab. In 1960, after almost 10 years of tedious negotiations under the auspices of the World Bank, both sides came to an agreement and the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was signed by Pakistani President Ayub Khan and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.[1]

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