Has a Water-Sharing Pact Between Pakistan and India Grown Stagnant?

Jun 26, 2019 | 18:29 GMT

A composite satellite image of the Indus River Delta in Pakistan, where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea.

A satellite image of the delta in Pakistan where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea. The 1960 Indus Water Treaty governs India's and Pakistan's use of the rivers and tributaries of the Indus River.

(PLANET OBSERVER/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)


  • Severe water shortages and the prospect of a delayed monsoon season that fails to deliver enough rain will push water management up India's priority list.
  • India is unlikely to withdraw from the Indus Water Treaty, which has governed India and Pakistan's use of the rivers and tributaries of the Indus Basin for nearly 60 years, but it is more likely to increase its use of the water allotted to it, which in itself could be detrimental.
  • The treaty does not include China, and the tenuous nature of the relationships among India, China and Pakistan does not rule out the possibility of Beijing's involvement in the river basin.
  • Questions about the Indus Water Treaty's efficacy and how well it reflects current realities will become more pressing in the years ahead.

Narendra Modi's second term as Indian prime minister is underway following his Bharatiya Janata Party's landslide victory in last month's parliamentary elections, and the National Institution for Transforming India, a policy think tank of the Indian government, has released a 100-day agenda. Among the proposals for developing infrastructure and lowering India's unemployment rate, currently at an all-time high, is an emphasis on better managing the country's water resources. Water management is a controversial and touchy subject, but with one-third of India in drought, water supplies in India's sixth-largest city, Chennai, running dry, and dire predictions that this year's delayed monsoon season will fail to deliver adequate rainfall totals, water management is likely to rise higher on India's priority list....

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