ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has no plan to renegotiate historic Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with India and instead considers to get the water dispute included in the composite dialogue process.
“There is no proposal under consideration to seek renegotiation on IWT,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told The Nation on Friday. Instead, the government is seriously considering making outstanding water dispute with India as part of the composite dialogue process, she added.
And this policy development is largely credited to the parliamentarians who have been making fervent calls for making the outstanding water issue with India as part of the composite dialogue process. The Senate of Pakistan also passed recently a unanimous resolution urging the government to make water dispute with India as part of the composite dialogue process.
The mover of the resolution, PPP Senator Sughra Imam, while talking to The Nation said that the purpose of the resolution was to ensure that the government raised the water issue in any dialogue process Pakistan had initiated with India, something Islamabad had failed to do effectively in the past.
“We have relegated water to a backburner issue that only the Indus Water Commissioner raised and that too when it was too late. So, whether it is trade talks or back channel negotiations, outstanding water disputes and issues must be part of bilateral negotiations,” she emphasised.
The PPP senator went on to say that that purpose of the resolution was to put water issue on the front burner and guarantee that New Delhi addressed it immediately.
On renegotiating of the IWT, Senator Sughra Imam said it was a long-term solution, whereas its violations had to be dealt with immediately so that the dams that India was building were stopped or slowed down. She feared that any effort including even buying of water from the dams Indian had built on the Sutlej River would jeopardise Pakistan’s position.
On the other hand Federal Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada in a recent interview had hinted at the government’s move to buy water from dams constructed by India on Sutlej River, which as per Indus Water Treaty of 1960 belonged to India.
The minister further said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would take up the proposals with Indian authorities on the sidelines of the next SAARC meeting.
However, when contacted, Federal Secretary Water and Power Saifullah Chattha categorically rejected that there was any such proposal under consideration.
On the other hand, water experts particularly those who in one way or the other had some attachment with water issues between India and Pakistan believed that Pakistan should not buy water or electricity from India until and unless it addressed Pakistan’s water concerns.
“Even Pakistan should not talk about the trade as it also involves fate of Pakistani cotton crop,” an expert said requesting not to be named. Instead, he called upon the Prime Minister Sharif to take notice of the statements of his cabinet ministers including Khawaja Asif, Khurum Dastagir Khan and Riaz Hussain Pirzada about buying of electricity and water or trade as this would further weaken Pakistan’s position.
In a related development, ministry of planning development and reforms in a belated effort is organising Pakistan’s Water Summit next week to develop country’s first National Water Policy for proactive development and management of water resources.