India PM Water Diversion Commitment Criticised By Pakistan

New Delhi, India

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised by the Pakistan government after he promised supporters that river waters that currently flow into Pakistan per terms of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty would be diverted to Indian farms and households in the region, claiming that despite the terms of the agreement, the water “belongs” to farmers of Haryana and Rajasthan.

“Work towards realisation of this has been started and I am committed towards it. Modi will fight your battle", Modi said at a 15 October rally in Haryana.

In response to Modi’s announcement, Mohammad Faisal of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said that Pakistan had “exclusive rights” over the three western rivers as established by the Indus Waters Treaty and that any proposed diversion would be considered an “act of aggression”. To which Modi, in return, said 19 October Modi warned Pakistan that he’s serious about using 100% of Indian river waters. “Once I decide to do something, I always accomplish that,” Modi told an election rally, criticizing the opposition party for allowing a portion of India’s river water to leave the country.

India and Pakistan “share” the waters of six rivers that flow through the two nations. The World Bank-brokered agreement allocates control of the eastern rivers (the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej) to India and the western rivers (the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum) to Pakistan. However, an estimated 5 percent of India’s unutilized water share flows to downstream Pakistan territory and India is attempting to access this flow.

The controversy over water is long-standing. In February then-minister Nitin Gadkari warned of such diversion after a suicide bomb killed 40 Indian soldiers in Pulwama.

Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated since 5 August when India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status. In response, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that it is an "internal matter".

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