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Making a new beginning

Ever since the rise of Imran Khan to Pakistan’s premier position, there has been a verbal thaw between the two countries. No more words of acrimony against each other are heard from either side. Barring some sponsored Indian TV news channels, the media, in general, has toned down its poisonous way of manufacturing and playing up stories. Blazing of guns and artillery at the border between the armies of the two hostile countries too have fallen somewhat silent. Though peace has not returned fully on the LOC and IB but the hostility that had been prevailing on the borders has somewhat fallen off. But what is even more positive is the visit of a nine-member delegation of Indian Indus Water Commission to Islamabad to settle water dispute between the two countries. The delegation crossed over to Pakistan on Tuesday through Wagah border crossing to hold talks with Pakistani officials. The delegation, headed by Indian Water Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Saxena, will discuss the Indus Waters Treaty (also known as the Sindh Taas Agreement) among other issues over the next two days. The Pakistani delegation will be headed by Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Meher Ali Shah. This is after a long gap that the two countries turn to table for addressing a bilateral issue. Soon after taking over as Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan offered to walk two steps should India take one step. There were some positive gestures from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to. He, in writing told his Pakistani counter-part that he too was ready for resolving issues through dialogue. However, a malicious campaign by mad media forced him to talk down the issue. This speaks of where the rot lies.
The visit of Indian water delegation without much of media glaze is welcome sign.
Pakistan is in the grip of serious water crisis, and it blames India for choking waterways to Islamabad by building dams and power houses on the rivers supposed to give water to Pakistan. The frustration among Pakistan’s political establishment could be understood from the statement of Minister for Human Rights Shireen M Mazari. On Tuesday, she told the Senate that Pakistan would seriously pursue water issue with India taking firm and strong decisions with no concession as water was the country’s lifeline. She said it was negligence of the previous government that it had not taken up the water issue with India, but now firm and strong decisions would be taken.
Water distribution system in India and Pakistan is governed by Indus Water Treaty. As long as the two countries do not withdraw from the treaty, it is obligatory for them to follow its provisions. Indus water treaty of September 19, 1960, between India and Pakistan, is one of the most liberal water-sharing pacts in the world. Under the treaty that was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan president Ayub Khan, the water of six rivers – Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – were to be shared between the two countries. The pact, brokered by World Bank, survived three wars fought between the two countries and constant strain in their bilateral ties. However, over the past some years Pakistan has been accusing India of violating the provisions of the treaty by building dams and power houses. India has always ignored Pakistan’s objections. Analysts of sub continental politics have long back predicted that water may be the cause of the next war between India and Pakistan. There have been many rounds of negotiations with regard to water dispute between the two countries but of no avail. The efforts of World Bank too could not bring the two countries together on the dispute. A 2011 report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said India could use these projects as a way to control Pakistan’s supplies from the Indus, seen as its jugular vein. It is quite appreciable that the two countries appear to be realizing the disadvantages of being in permanent state of hostility. It is believed that the two countries would resort of comprehensive dialogue process to resolve all disputes including that of simmering Kashmir.