Revocation of Indus treaty will be ‘act of war’ says Pakistan, China reacts cautiously

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Pakistan on Tuesday warned India that unilateral revocation of the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty would be treated as an “act of war” saying it could also approach the UN and the International Court of Justice if the water-sharing pact is suspended.

“It is the most successful water treaty ever conducted between two countries. Its revocation can be treated as an act of war or a hostile action against Pakistan,” the country’s top diplomat Sartaj Aziz said here. Pakistan will also approach the UN and the International Court of Justice if India suspends the treaty, he said. He said Pakistan is considering drawing attention of the international community on the dangers of such an action if it is considered seriously.

“The international law states that India cannot unilaterally separate itself from the treaty,” Aziz, Advisor to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs, said while briefing the National Assembly on the issue. He said unilateral revocation of the treaty can pose a threat to Pakistan and its economy warning that any interruption in the water flow would serve as an example to usurp the right of lower riparian states.

He said that if India violates the treaty, Pakistan can approach the International Court of Justice. “This Indian act can be taken as breach of international peace and hence giving Pakistan a good reason to approach the UN Security Council,” Aziz said. He said the treaty was not suspended even during the Kargil and Siachen wars, adding even India could suffer if the flow of its rivers was disturbed by China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday chaired a review meeting of the Indus Water Treaty during which it was decided that India will “exploit to the maximum” the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water-sharing pact. The meeting came as India weighed its options to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack that left 18 soldiers dead, triggering demands that the government scrap the water-sharing deal to mount pressure on the country.

Under the treaty, which was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in September 1960, waters of six rivers – Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – were to be shared between the two countries.

Pakistan has been complaining about not receiving enough water and gone for international arbitration in a couple of cases.

China’s reaction:

China on Tuesday reacted guardedly to India’s decision to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty, saying it hopes the two countries can “properly” address disputes and improve ties through dialogue and consultation.

“As a friendly neighbour to both India and Pakistan, China hopes that India and Pakistan can properly address disputes and improve relations through dialogue and consultation, maintain and enhance all-round cooperation and join hands to promote regional peace, stability and development,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told PTI in a written response.

His response came to a question on India’s decision to hold the talks between Commissioners of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) only when the atmosphere was free from cross border terrorism.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday chaired a review meeting of 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty during which it was decided that India will “exploit to the maximum” the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water sharing pact.

The meeting came as India weighed its options to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack that left 18 soldiers dead, triggering demands that the government scrap the water distribution pact to mount pressure on that country. Under the treaty, which was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in September 1960, water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — were to be shared between the two countries.

(With PTI inputs)

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