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Tension in Indian Sub-Continent…from Nuclear to Water - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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New Delhi- The hostility circle between the two nuclear rivals India and Pakistan has expanded from the military rivalry to competition on water.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently raised concerns by pledging to prevent Pakistan from benefitting from Sindhū River, which means the reconsideration of the agreement to organize partnership on the issue. For the first time, New Delhi took a decision to use water as a strategic weapon to confront Islamabad.

In a recent development considered a remarkable threat to the agreement on the Sindhū River’s water hammered in 1960, India postponed the meeting of concerned delegates saying it will reconsider the agreement’s articles. These meeting take place regularly to discuss complaints of each country about the river’s water.

From its part, Pakistan warned that these attempts will drag both countries to war, as Islamabad fears that it would be banned from using the river’s water.

Responding to the recent Indian measure, Pakistan resorted to the Security Council. Pakistan’s Representative at the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi called on the international community to be aware of any indications on India’s intentions to suspend partnership on the river’s water.

Commenting on the Pakistani step, India said that it will not tackle this case in the Security Council; rather it will be discussed according to the mechanisms set in the abovementioned agreement.

Pakistan has also submitted a request of legal arbitration against India.

This is not the first time Pakistan takes similar measures against its neighbor. But the latest step was considered one of the most controversial measures in the long and tense relations between the countries in their dispute on water resources.

Apparently, the request for an international mediation was part of the “water war” strategy to confront India.

According to the agreement inked between the two countries, any conflicts concerning the agreement’s articles can be solved in three measures: settling all the issues by the permanent committee of the Sindhū River, settling conflicts by resorting to an independent expert, or referring conflicts to the permanent arbitration court in The Hague.

Treaty to organize partnership in Sindhū River’s water
In September, Pakistan requested the intervention of the World Bank amid threats by India to suspend the agreement. Senior officials from Pakistan and the World Bank met and sought to establish an arbitration court paving the road to take the next rational step in settling the conflicts mentioned in the treaty. According to the treaty, the World Bank can play a major role in establishing an arbitration court by appointing three judges; in such courts, seven judges should be appointed; each country appoints two judges along with the three judges selected by the bank.

Till this date, Pakistan and India faced many legal battles while more energy projects and dams have been built in the Indian-controlled region in Kashmir, where many politicians and groups have called on the government to reconsider the treaty that restricts the region’s economy.

From its part, Pakistan has heavily depended on the water of the Sindhū River, which meets around 90% of the needs of the agriculture sector in the country. Therefore, suspension of water supply from this river will have a disastrous impact on Pakistan.

Writer Brahma Chellaney said that this treaty is one of the most successful water-related treaties in the world because it has prevented a violent conflict between India and Pakistan for over 50 years; however, he stressed the importance on amending it so it includes new topics like ground water and climate changes.

This agreement’s suspension may cause many dangers for India. Analysts suggested New Delhi to take less radical measures that should have a legal effect to force Islamabad on building dams on the western part of the river.