Don’t blame us for water woes, India tells Pakistan

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Rejecting ‘negative propaganda’ over the Indus waters row, India has made it clear that Pakistan’s water woes arise from its internal domestic problems and called for adherence to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, informed sources say.

Pakistan raised the issue of the alleged denial of Indus waters to it during the foreign secretary-level talks with India Thursday. But the Indian side stressed that the interests of the two countries were best served by sticking to the letter and spirit of the water treaty.

India also rejected Pakistan’s accusation that New Delhi was violating the treaty, government sources said Friday.

They have given us no evidence to buttress the charge, an official source said.

India’s stand is that Pakistan’s problems arise due to inter-provincial rivalry in that country.

Sindh and Balochistan have accused Pakistan’s western province of Punjab of denying them Indus water. There are also technical problems relating to lack of effective watershed management. Over the years, per capita availability of water in Pakistan has gone down drastically due to a host of factors.

After talks with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao Thursday, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir handed over a brief paper on the water row to India.

Speaking to reporters later, he struck a conciliatory note saying it was ‘important to abide by the provisions of the treaty’.

Rao made it clear that the Indus treaty had been ‘a very successful and useful mechanism’ to resolve water-related disputes.

The accusation that India steals water has become an emotive issue in Pakistan. Groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba/Jamaat-ud-Dawa have tried to hype the issue by blaming India for growing scarcity of water in Pakistan.

Anti-India ideologues like Hafiz Saeed and his deputy Abdur Rahman Makki of Lashkar have warned that ‘Muslims dying of thirst would drink the blood of India’.

Under the 1960 treaty, India was given exclusive use of the waters of three eastern tributaries — Ravi, Beas and Sutlej — and the right to ‘non-consumptive’ use of the western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab.

The western rivers have a flow of 136 million acre feet (MAF) against a mere 33 MAF in the eastern rivers.

India has allowed the flow of water to Pakistan from its eastern rivers as well, official sources pointed out.

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