India recently issued a notice to Pakistan, demanding modifications to the Indus Waters Treaty signed in 1960 by India, Pakistan, and the World Bank. The treaty determines rights over the waters of several rivers in the Indus Basin for both countries. Although the treaty has been a high point in their bilateral relationship, both sides have grown increasingly discontented, and this is not the first time that the two nations have publicly clashed over the agreement.
India’s Allegations Against Pakistan
India alleges that Pakistan has failed to address India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects for the past five years, which has negatively impacted the treaty’s provisions. India has requested changes to the treaty through the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which is responsible for implementing the treaty and addressing any issues.
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It is unclear what India hopes to achieve by requesting modifications to the treaty, but the likelihood of Pakistan agreeing to substantive changes is currently low. Pakistan has responded to India’s notice by stating that it is committed to implementing the treaty in good faith and ensuring its water security. Pakistan is willing to hear India’s concerns about the treaty, but has emphasized that as a lower riparian country, it cannot flout the Indus Water Treaty’s provisions or commit any material breach.
Sanctity of the Existing Treaty
According to Article 12 of the treaty, the existing treaty will remain in effect unless Pakistan and India bilaterally introduce changes to the pact. Thus, the sanctity of the existing Indus Waters Treaty cannot be damaged between the two nuclear countries, as the whole world cannot afford it. Furthermore, Pakistan has not committed any material violation of the IWT, which is why the Indian notice to introduce changes to IWT is unwarranted.
India’s Next Move
It is unlikely that India will seek to unilaterally terminate the treaty, especially since India is hosting international leaders and journalists for a year of G20 meetings. Modi will not want to risk sparking a potentially embarrassing conflict with its neighbor. Instead, it appears that India is utilizing the Permanent Indus Commission to express its displeasure with Pakistan and, perhaps, the World Bank, attempting to demonstrate that it is becoming impatient with both Pakistan’s objections and the Bank’s refusal to support India’s position.