ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Defence, Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif Tuesday said Pakistan would not accept any external pressure on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) reached with India in 1960 for distribution of water between the two countries.
“Each and every clause of the IWT should be followed by both the signatories in its letter and spirit,” he said while talking to media persons after addressing a national seminar.
The seminar titled “Hydro Politics around Pakistan: Reassessing the Efficacy of IWT,” was organized by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) at the National Defence University (NDU) in Islamabad.
Commenting on India’s latest move to build Ratle Dam on the River Chemnab after Baglihar and Kishanganga project, the minister said Pakistan did an extensive exercise in one and half years over the issue.
“Pakistan’s case is stronger than that of India and we would safeguards its national interests at every cost,” he asserted.
Answering a question, the minister underlined the need for conserving water, electricity and gas, highlighting the importance of developing habit of conservation at every level.
In the existing system, he said, Pakistan had sufficient water resources to meet its needs but “we will have to end the culture of wastage.”
Replying to another question, Khawaja Asif said around 6,500 MW electricity would be added in the national grid during a period from April to December this year.
The electricity would be coming from five power generation plants, out of which two are coal-fired and three LNG-based.
“This will help eliminate the power shortages in peak summer season,” he said adding 3,500 MW more electricity would be added in the system from other resources by the end of the current year.
He expressed confidence that the commitment made by the Prime Minister with regard to overcoming the load-shedding in the given time would be fulfilled.
Earlier addressing participants of the seminar, Khawaja Asif said the waters regime as envisaged in the IWT continued to take the brunt of Indian mindset and their inclination to interfere with the waters, exclusively reserved for Pakistan.
“The potential to interfere is widened if not actualized, in the backdrop of conflicts between the two countries.”
However, he said, treaty was an instrument which could avoid wars, so Pakistan’s focus remained on implementation of the treaty in letter and spirit.
“The question of upper and lower riparian is essentially a misnomer in the IWT context. In the first place, Pakistan needs to stick to the treaty, while emphasizing on its true implementation.
Secondly, we need to keep in mind that the country’s water security dilemma is accentuated in the absence of an effective water storage capacity, water conservation and management strategy,” he remarked.
The minister said situation could be improved through a multi-pronged and time efficient management; and a strong political will to translate plans into reality.
“We should put our house in order and take meaningful steps to enhance our storage capacity.”
He said both the countries were bound to follow the IWT clauses in letter and spirit and no side could abrogate them unilaterally.
In his welcome address, President NDU Lt General Rizwan Akhtar said the IWT 1960 had been the most outstanding achievement that established a technical formula and mechanism for water division of the Indus basin river system in an otherwise politically volatile region.
The legal instrument, he said, had so far sustained and delivered despite ups and downs in Pakistan India relations.
Other participants of the seminar emphasised that water, being a lifeline” had become an important factor in shaping the relationship between co-riparian in the changing geo-strategic environment.
Pakistan and India share the waters of Indus River Basin which has been a major source of contention between the two states since independence.
In order to resolve the disputes, both countries signed IWT in 1960 with the help of World Bank which has survived over five decades of hostilities between the two states.
However, due to the recent indigenous upsurge in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), water has once again become a divisive issue.
Indian statement “blood and water cannot flow together” and the threat of unilateral abrogating the treaty has resulted into a new wave of hydro politics around Pakistan and brought IWT under stress.
Highlighting Pakistan’s primary concerns regarding the IWT, the seminar participants gave different suggestions to counter the Indian hydro hegemony in an effective manner.