Islamabad: Pakistan minister for Defence, Water and Power Khawaja Asif said on Tuesday Pakistan would not accept any external pressure on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) reached with India in 1960 for distribution of water between the two countries.
“Each and every clause of the IWT should be followed by both the signatories in its letter and spirit,” he said while speaking to journalists after addressing a national seminar.
The seminar titled “Hydro Politics around Pakistan: Reassessing the Efficacy of IWT”, was organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA) in Islamabad at the National Defence University (NDU).
Commenting on India’s latest move to build the Ratle Dam on the River Chenab after the Baglihar and Kishanganga project, the minister said Pakistan did an extensive exercise regarding the issue over a period of a year and a half.
“Pakistan’s case is stronger than that of India and we will safeguard its national interests at every cost,” he asserted.
Answering a question, the minister underlined the need to conserve water, electricity and gas, and highlighted the importance of developing a habit of conservation at every level.
Under the existing system, he said, Pakistan had sufficient water resources to meet its needs but “we will have to end the culture of wastage.”
Addressing participants of the seminar earlier, Asif had said that the waters regime as envisaged in the IWT continued to bear the brunt of the Indian mindset and India’s alleged inclination to interfere with water reserved exclusively for Pakistan.
“The potential to interfere is widened if not actualised, in the backdrop of conflicts between the two countries,” he said.
However, he added, the treaty was an instrument which could help avoid wars, so Pakistan’s focus remains on implementation of the treaty in letter and spirit.
“The question of upper and lower riparian is essentially a misnomer in the IWT context. In the first place, Pakistan needs to stick to the treaty, while placing emphasis on its true implementation.
“We need to keep in mind that the country’s water security dilemma is accentuated in the absence of an effective water storage capacity, water conservation and management strategy,” Asif remarked.
In his welcome address, President NDU Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar said the IWT had been a most outstanding achievement which established a technical formula and mechanism for water division of the Indus River Basin system in an otherwise politically volatile region.
The legal instrument, he said, had so far sustained and delivered despite ups and downs in Pakistan India relations.
Other participants of the seminar emphasised that water, being a lifeline had become an important factor in shaping the relationship between co-riparians in the changing geo-strategic environment.
Highlighting Pakistan’s primary concerns regarding the IWT, the seminar participants gave different suggestions to counter the Indian hydro hegemony in an effective manner.