Pakistan Raises Water Issue During Diplomatic Talks with India

Pakistan argues that India’s dam-building and water diversions violate the Indus River Treaty.

Pakistani officials raised concerns about India’s alleged misuse of the Indus River during diplomatic talks between the two countries Thursday, the Hindustan Times reports.

India denied that it has violated the Indus River Treaty and asserts that Pakistan’s water problems come from disputes between its own provinces, according to the Hindustan Times.

Officials came together to discuss terrorism in the region. The meeting between foreign secretaries was the first diplomatic talk the two countries have had since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. The Indian delegation presented evidence to Pakistani officials that the attackers were based in Pakistan, according to the Guardian.

“India’s engagement with Pakistan will be predicated, as it has been since the Mumbai attack, on the response of Pakistan to our core concerns on terrorism,” said External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to the Hindu.

Yet Pakistan observers argue that the water issue is a recruitment tool for terrorist groups in their country. The leadership of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the Mumbai attacks, has warned that “Muslims dying of thirst would drink the blood of India,” according to the Hindustan Times.

While the U.S. has urged cooperation from both sides, it may be taking a more active role. Pakistan’s Daily Times reported that U.S. Special Representative Richard Holbrooke said the U.S. was mediating water negotiations between India and Pakistan.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson was not able to confirm or deny the claims, and asserted that the U.S. did not participate in Thursday’s meeting.

“Our position is we applaud the governments for holding talks,” the spokesperson told Circle of Blue. “This is an opportunity for exploring items on their agenda and a chance for progress to be made. The U.S. is not participating.”

Pakistan is concerned about India’s dam-building on rivers in the disputed Kashmir region. Under the Indus River Treaty, India is granted exclusive use of the eastern tributaries of the Indus, while Pakistan is given the western tributaries. India has been permitted non-consumptive use of the western rivers, hence the dams in Kashmir.

However, Pakistan argues that the reservoirs are larger in size than what the treaty designates and that India has not provided enough information about these projects.

Source: Hindustan Times, Hindu, Daily Times

Himalayas photos

Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton

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