Tag Archives: Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty and the Need to Broaden its Scope to Mitigate Climate Change and Global Warming

The implementation review of the Dhaka Declaration and the SAARC action plan on climate change and ensuring its timely execution under Article IX is a panacea to environmental degradation.

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) ratified in 1960 with the arbitration of the World Bank is under a lot of stress due to growing water scarcity in Pakistan and India. This treaty may be considered a successful treaty as it withstood three wars. Yet, with the passage of time, one of the most stressed basins in the world is facing new challenges videlicet climate change, environmental degradation and global warming. There is no mechanism present in treaty to address these challenges due to their negligible significance at that time. The water crisis is a big question mark in Indo-Pak relations. The growing water stress between the two countries is likely to deepen further with current global climate changes. As a result, IWT has come under a lot of pressure due to changes in hydrological, demographic, political and economic environment. This is raising testing and novel questions on the normative, functional and administrative viability of IWT. Pakistan as a lower riparian country is at the receiving end and is suffering from water stress as a water scarce country.

Indeed, the per capital water availability has decreased from about 5,600 cubic meters available in 1947 to 1,032 cubic meters in 2016. Pakistan may become water poor if current situation persists. Pakistan is considered to be one of the world’s driest countries with a single basin. Pakistan’s dependence on external water resources is 76% while that of India is 34%. Annual influx into Indus through Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) regulates Pakistani economy. The basin accounts for 25% of Gross Domestic Product, 47% of employment and more than 60% of annual national foreign exchange earnings. So, Indus basin has critical importance for domestic water needs. IWT allows Pakistan restrictive uses of water. Furthermore, its lower riparian status aggravates the situation. Pakistan strongly feels that India does not follow the technical parameters laid down in the treaty. Continue reading

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‘The Indus Commission hasn’t played an effective role’

Coverage from Dawn on our event on Friday, 20 March 2015.

The Indus Waters Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 did not envisage disputes and concerns arising in subsequent years. These include climate changes and groundwater management that were not mentioned when the treaty was being formulated. These thoughts were articulated by former deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme Shafqat Kakakhel and former managing director of Wapda Khalid Mohtadullah. They were delivering a talk on ‘The Indus Waters Treaty 1960: Issues and Concerns’ at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs on Friday. Before delving into the effectiveness of the treaty and challenges in its implementation, Mr Kakakhel, gave a comprehensive background of the treaty to which Mr Mohtadullah added his valuable input.

The treaty, consisting of around eight pages, had four main features, said Mr Kakakhel. “The first pertains to the division of the Indus and its five major tributaries. All the waters of the three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — shall be available to India and Pakistan shall receive for unrestricted use all those waters of the western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) which India is under obligation to let flow.” He emphasised that this was not a water-sharing agreement but a water-division agreement. Continue reading

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