The government on Monday decided to suspend Indus water commission talks with Pakistan. This decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan amid a heightening tension between the two countries.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, the Water Resources Secretary, and senior PMO officials were reported to have been present at the meeting.
The suspension of talks may not straight away lead to the revocation of the Indus Water Treaty, but it is meant to signal to Pakistan that India is prepared for a comprehensive response to Pakistan’s undeterred support to terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India.
Sources quoted NaMo as having stated that “blood and water can’t flow together.” Last week New Delhi made it clear that “mutual trust and cooperation” was important for such a treaty to work.
The meeting is said to have also decided to review the 1987 suspension of the Tulbul navigation project to accommodate Pakistan’s concerns. The Prime Minister was also briefed about the various dams under construction in Jammu and Kashmir and he wanted them to be expedited.
May it be noted that since the Uri attack, the government has been under intense pressure to act in a forceful way that includes measures to stop water flows from three Western rivers into Pakistan.
Under the Indus Water Treaty, that was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in September 1960, the water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum — were to be shared between the two countries.
Pakistan has been complaining of not receiving enough water and gone for international arbitration in a couple of cases.
Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said last week that his State will fully support whatever decision is taken by the Union government on the 1960 agreement.
“The treaty has caused huge loss to Jammu and Kashmir” as the people of the State cannot fully utilise the waters of various rivers, particularly Chenab in Jammu, for agricultural and other activities, Singh added.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to grant an urgent hearing on a PIL seeking a declaration of the India—Pakistan Indus Water Treaty as unconstitutional.
“There is no urgency in the matter. It will come up for hearing in due course,” a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar said.
Advocate M L Sharma, who filed the PIL in his personal capacity on the issue, sought urgent hearing of the matter saying the treaty was unconstitutional as it was not signed as per the constitutional scheme and hence should be declared “void ab initio.”
“Keep politics aside. The matter will come in due course,” the Bench said when the lawyer insisted on an urgent hearing.