An Indian union minister recently said that India has stopped the flow of its three eastern rivers to Pakistan, thereby threatening its water supply. But this an an empty threat since under the Indus Water Treaty, those three rivers are exclusively for India’s use. Pakistan’s water share will not be affected by it.
India can make such threats under the treaty, environment lawyer Rafay Alam told SAMAA Digital, explaining that the threat to stop the flow of the eastern rivers doesn’t affect Pakistan. “It’s nothing more than a political ploy.”
The Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 to fix and delimit the rights and obligations of both countries over the use of the Indus River. The water treaty has given India the exclusive right to use eastern rivers — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas — while Pakistan can use the western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, he explained.
The Beas doesn’t even flow to Pakistan. It flows into the Sutlej and then to Pakistan and the Sutlej has been dry since the 1960s, he said.
India is allowed to use water from the western rivers for domestic or agricultural purposes. The country can even use the water for limited hydro purposes as long as the flow to Pakistan is not affected. India is not allowed to store that river water, Alam added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had threatened to cut off Pakistan’s water supply after 18 soldiers were killed in the Uri attacks in 2016.
He made a very powerful statement that “blood and water won’t be allowed to flow together,” said Alam. But that statement was politically motivated to rile up the masses and nothing more, he said.