Indus Waters Treaty A Dispassionate Analysis

Indus Waters Treaty A Dispassionate Analysis

Policy Perspectives, Volume 8 , Number 2, July – December 2011

Azhar Ahmad*

“No armies with bombs and shellfire could devastate a land so thoroughly as Pakistan could be devastated by the simple expedient of India’s permanently shutting off the source of waters that keep the fields and people of Pakistan green.”

David Lilienthal, 1951


[The dispute over sharing trans-boundary rivers, having its genesis in the flawed and biased partition of 1947, is one of the most contentious issues in relations between Pakistan and India. Indus Water Treaty was signed between the two states in 1960 after marathon negotiations held under the auspices of the World Bank and supported by major world powers. The treaty was heralded as peaceful resolution of water issues between the two countries and was seen as serving the purpose for last five decades. Even during full-fledged war the treaty remained in force and effective. However, India, taking advantage of the provisions of the treaty has initiated some projects including Kishanganga, Baglihar and Wullar that (dams) have revived, rather heightened water related tensions. The situation continues to be complicated despite the involvement of a neutral expert and Pakistan’s recent move of taking the dispute to International Court of Arbitration. A dispassionate analysis of the treaty indicates that, if followed in letter and spirit, it still provides a good foundation for resolution of water disputes between two arch rivals. – Eds.]


*Azhar Ahmad is a retired naval officer.

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