India has sent a notice to Pakistan calling for an amendment of the Indus Waters Treaty since the dispute resolution mechanism of the treaty remains in a logjam for five years. This is for the first time when New Delhi has called on Islamabad for the amendment of the treaty that was signed in 1960 in Karachi between the then-Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru and then-Pakistani president Ayub Khan.

Sources told WION, “India has issued notice to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of September 1960. This is as per Article XII (3) of IWT…Pakistani intransigence on the Indus Waters Treaty forced India to issue a notice of modification to the Treaty.”

Under the notice, India has called on Pakistan to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to “rectify the material breach” of the treaty and also “update the treaty to incorporate the lessons learned over the last 62 years”, sources explained.

Under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, the waters of three Eastern Rivers — Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi — are allocated to India for unrestricted use while the waters of three Western rivers — Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab go to Pakistan. Additionally, New Delhi has the right to generate hydroelectricity through the run of the river projects on the three Western rivers, subject to specific criteria for design.  Pakistan can under the treaty raise technical objections to the design of Indian hydroelectric projects on Western rivers.

One of the key issues has been dispute resolution mechanisms that have led to India issuing the notice. For example, in 2015, Pakistan requested the appointment of a neutral expert to examine its technical objections to India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs).

The following year, that is 2016, Pakistan unilaterally retracted from the “neutral expert” mechanism and proposed that a “court of arbitration” decide on its objections. Meanwhile, India made a separate request for the matter to be referred to a neutral expert. The initiation of two simultaneous processes on the same issue essentially creates a legal issue.

Sources pointed out, “At Pakistan’s continuing insistence, the World Bank has recently initiated actions on both the neutral expert and court of arbitration processes. Such parallel consideration of the same issues is not covered under any provision of the treaty,” adding, “faced with such violation of the treaty provisions, India has been compelled to issue a notice of modification.” In 2016, World Bank took a decision to “pause” the initiation of two parallel processes and request India and Pakistan to seek an amicable way out. 

Despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, Pakistan refused to discuss the issue during the five meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2022. The last Indus Water Talks took place in Delhi between India’s Indus water commissioner AK Pal and Pakistani counterpart Mehr Ali Shah. The next meeting of the Indus Water Commission will take place in Pakistan.


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