We have been hearing a lot about the Indus Valley Treaty recently due to the circumstances created by the so-called non-state actors from the neighboring country. India, after the URI attacks, has sharpened its diplomatic edges and has gone all-out on all diplomatic frontiers with a single target of isolating Pakistan on the world stage. Obviously, military options were also considered in the aftermath of what has happened and thanks to the sane minds governing the country, no knee-jerk military offensives were mounted which could have done more harm to India than Pakistan. After considering all the options and their consequences, the Indian PM finally took a call to review the Indus Valley Treaty, which is the lifeline of the very same neighboring country that has been exporting terrorism to India since all these years.
So, what is this Indus Valley Treaty? And why is it so important?
- Indus Valley Treaty was signed in the year 1956 between the then PMs of India and Pakistan.
- This treaty was brokered by World Bank.
- This treaty was formed with the objective of sharing the waters of Indus Valley Rivers between India and Pakistan.
- So basically according to this treaty , India gets to use waters of rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej and Pakistan gets to use waters of rivers Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
- But, here is the twist in the tale. Indus river originates in India, so according to this treaty India also gets to use almost 20% of Indus’s waters.
Now, why is Indus Valley treaty so important, that it has come into play as a major mechanism of defeating Pakistan Economically? Let us look at some of the facts:
- About 65% of Pakistan is a part of Indus Basin, especially the entire Punjab Province. This is the area that produces much of Pakistan’s agricultural revenue and yes Pakistan is heavily dependent on agriculture industry as rest of it all is in shambles.
- More than 90% of Pakistan’s irrigated area is due to the Indus valley basin and this is the world’s largest canal irrigation.
- Some of Pakistan’s biggest dams are located in this basis and is a major source of hydroelectricity and drinking water for millions of Pakistanis.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the event of review of this treaty said that “Blood and water cannot flow together” and it was also decided that India will formulate a strategy to “exploit the maximum” the water of rivers used by Pakistan.
But keeping all the machoism and jingoism aside, Is it really possible for India to scrap this treaty and stop the water flowing into Pakistan? Can India really afford to go to the extremes here?
- If we stop these waters from flowing into Pakistan, then indeed that country is going to succumb to the economical and other impacts that will render it in a post-apocalyptican state.
- But, this will not be easy. India has already explored this option of scrapping the treaty and closing the water flow earlier, during the Kargil war. It stopped from executing then and it will stop from executing it now. Let us analyze the reasons:
- Pakistan is already unhappy with the fact that India has the dominance over these rivers and that its lifeline is in Indian hands. One of the major reasons for Pakistan to get control of Kashmir is to get a hold of these rivers from India and one of the major reasons for India to keep a stronghold on Kashmir is to maintain this very dominance on Pakistan.
- Pakistan has been rattled internally and is bleeding from its own seeds of terrorism. With the waters stopping to flow into Pakistan, there will be a lot of collateral damage and its civilian populace will be the ones bearing the biggest brunt of it all. In a very short span of time, Pakistan will become a failed state and the extremists / terrorists there will get the much needed support and boost to intensify their attacks on Indian soil. Being a failed state Pakistan will have nothing more to lose, which will make it to go to any lengths (including the nuke option) and we cannot anticipate the consequences of it.
- Third, Afghanistan is turning out to be a great partner for India and it is our key to encirclement of Pakistan from the other side of the globe. Their main Kabul river on which much of Afghanistan’s development hinges, is flowing from Indus Basin and it goes into Pakistan. So by stopping it we can assure annihilation of Pakistan on all fronts but we also risk the friendship and partnership with Afghans, which is more important now than ever.
- Finally, by stopping the Indus Waters we are setting a precedent which is more damaging to us in longer term because then China which controls almost 25% of waters in the Asain Sub-continent will get an option to use it, and believe me , we do not want it. China controlled Tibet is the source for almost all major rivers of Asian countries downstream and it has built major dams across it. We will be unable to protest if China cites this example to move ahead with blocking the rivers some of which are India’s lifeline as well.
So, whatever India decides regarding Indus Valley Treaty , it has to be very calculated decision, the one which does not boomerang on us in the future.