Water Sharing, transparency and collaboration are the pillars on which the unique Indus Water Treaty was erected in 1960 between India and Pakistan.India’s treaty with Pakistan and Bangladesh are the only pacts in Asia with specific water-sharing formulas on cross-border flows.The 1996 Ganges treaty with Bangladesh set a new standard by guaranteeing delivery of specific water quantities in the critical dry season.
The Indus treaty stands out as the world’s most generous watersharing arrangement by far, in terms of both sharing ratio(80.52 % of the aggregate water flows in the Indus system is reserved for Pakistan) and the total volume of basin waters for the downstream state(90 ties greater volume to Pakistan when compared to Mexico’s share with the USA- 1944 pact).It is the first and only treaty that goes beyond water sharing to partitioning of rivers.It draws a virtual line on the map of India to split the Indus basin into upper and lower parts limiting India’s sovereignty rights to the lower section and reserving for Pakistan the upper section(rivers) of Jammu and Kashmir-the so-called ‘Western rivers’.Today, it remains the only inter-country water arrangement in the world embodying the doctrine of restricted sovereignty which seeks to compel an upper stream state to defer to the interests of a downstream state.
P.S. (India is the upper stream state and Pakistan the Downstream state)
Pakistan wants no Indian works on the three ‘Western rivers’ and seeks International intercession by invoking the treaty’s dispute settlements provisions, which permit a neutral expert assessment or the constitution of a seven member arbitrary tribunal.By aiming to deny Jammu and Kashmir the limited benefits permissible under the treaty, Pakistan further wishes to foment discontent and violence in the valley.
It instituted international arbitration proceedings over India’s 330 megawatt hydropower project on a small Indus tributary, the Kishenganga(Neelum in Pakistan) with India’s work suspended, Pakistan ramped up a three times larger Chinese-aided hydropower plant on same river so as to stake priority right on river-water use.The tribunal’s final ruling in 2013 represented a setback for India.It allowed India to resume work on Kishenganga project but with a stiff condition that India ensure a minimum flow of 9 cumecs of water for Pakistan. More importantly the arbitrary delivered a general prohibition against drawdown flushing in all new India’s hydropower projects.Pakistan’s move to institute new arbitration proceedings over the kishenganaga project is a fresh reminder as to how India’s unparalleled water generosity has engendered undenying trouble for it.In 1960,India thought it was trading water for peace by signing the treaty.within five years Pakistan launched a war to grab India’s part of Jammu and Kashmir in 1965.Today Pakistan’s water relationship with India is becoming murkier due to China’s construction of dams on Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Pakistan, by waging a constant propaganda battle against India on the waters issue risks,undermining the Indus-treaty.And by repeatedly invoking the treaty’s conflict-resolution provisions to bring International intercession, it risks sending the wrong message-that compliance with treaty obligations and arbitrations decisions is counter-productive.In the absence of an enforce mechanism in International law, nothing can stop India from emulating the example of major powers such as China’s stand in the South China Sea.
Pakistan insists on ‘rights’ without responsibilities.In fact, its use of state reared terrorist groups can be invoked by India under Article 62 of the Vienna convention on Lw of treaties, as constituting reasonable grounds for withdrawal from Indus-treaty and all other forms of trade. The International court of justice has upheld the principle that a treaty may be dissolved by reason of a fundamental change in circumstances.India is not invoking the same because it does not want to give more voice to nonsensical claims of terror heads like Hafiz Saeed that India is exploiting Pakistan.
If pakistan wishes to preserve the Indus treaty despite the diminishing returns to India, it will have to strike a balance between its rights to keep utilising the bulk of the river system waters and corresponding obligation(enshrined in the International law) not to cause palpable harm to its co-riparian state by exporting terror