The Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stopped its share of water from the eastern rivers, comprising of the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, flowing into Pakistan. This is the one of the many strategies taken up by the government following the Pulwama terrorist attack of February 14 that killed more than 40 CRPF soliders.
Nitin Gadkari, the Water Resources Minister, tweeted, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our government has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.”
India’s latest assault on Pakistan has no doubt got the world to its feet. The New York Times says a full blown water war could be catastrophic to the hundreds of millions of people in both the nations who depend on the river water. The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) 1960, brokered by the World Bank, was signed by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s President Ayub Khan. As per the agreement, control of the water flowing in the three ‘eastern’ rivers of India was given to New Delhi, while control over the water flowing in three ‘western’ rivers of India, the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, was given to Islamabad. Over the years, Pakistan has been raising concerns about India limiting water downstream.
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However, the latest move by India seems to have little to no effect on Pakistan as desired. The Secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Water Resources Khawaja Shumail said “We have neither concern nor objection if India diverts water of the eastern rivers and supplies it to its people or uses it for other purposes, as the IWT allows it to do so.” Shumail said Pakistan did not see India’s decision as worrisome. “But we will definitely express our concerns and raise objections strongly if they use or divert waters of the western rivers on which our right to use prevails” Shumail added.
Controlling water has been one of the main strategies of rulers going back to the rise of civilization.