India cannot walk away from Indus Waters Treaty, warns Pakistan
Pakistan relies on Jhelum river for irrigation and electricity purposes. Photograph: (Reuters)
India cannot walk away from the Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan said on Thursday.
Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakria cited sub-provisions (3) and (4) of Article XII of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) to state there was no "exit provision", Pakistani daily Dawn reported.
"The IWT is not time-barred and was never intended to be time- or event-specific," Zakria said during a weekly press briefing in Islamabad.
Pakistan's statement comes days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suspended the meeting of Indus Water Commission, saying "blood and water can't flow together". Modi was referring to Pakistan's role in helping militants launch attacks in India.
India has of late sounded out its intentions of abrogating the IWT, as a lever to put pressure on Pakistan to change its stance vis-a-vis India.
Pakistan relies heavily on Indus waters, which flow through India, for irrigation and electricity purposes. Under the IWT, India has control of three 'eastern' rivers — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas — and Pakistan has rights over the 'western' rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, though India can use 20 per cent of the 'western' rivers for power generation purposes.
Pakistan had earlier said if India decided to revoke the treaty, it would be viewed as an "act of war".
India has also decided to build new hydropower plants on the three rivers that flow to Pakistan.
Relations between the two countries hit a new low after four militants, who New Delhi believes were supported by Pakistan, launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army brigade headquarters on September 18. India then retaliated by conducting surgical strikes on several terror launch pads based in Pakistan on the intervening night of September 28 and 29.
The Foreign Office spokesman denied that India had conducted any surgical strikes in the country. "Falsified and irresponsible statements can only escalate tensions and are indeed a threat to regional peace and security," he said during the Thursday briefing, Dawn reported.
The spokesman remained tightlipped when asked whether China's decision to build a dam on Brahmaputra river was an indirect way to put pressure on India. "We have seen media reports. You may like to approach the government of China to ascertain details,” he said.