A day after Indian Prime Minister met senior government officials in New Delhi to review the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty, a senior Pakistan official has warned the country would approach the United Nations and the International Court of Justice should India pull out "unilaterally" from the pact.
The water sharing agreement, which has survived multiple conflicts between the two nations, governs the use of water resources from six major rivers – Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum -- that flow through the subcontinent.
According to media reports, Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Affairs adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said, "the international law states that India cannot unilaterally separate itself from the treaty" and doing so could amount to a "breach" of the treaty, giving Pakistan good reason to approach the UN Security Council.
"Between the two countries, this act of revocation can be taken as an act of war," he said.
According to media reports, Indian government is planning to exploit to "the maximum" the capacity of Pakistan-bound rivers in the treaty-- Indus, Chenab, Jhelum" as per the terms of the pact, and expediting the construction on three dams on River Chenab; Pakul Dul Dam, Sawalkot Dam and Bursar Dam.
As per the pact terms, India can use 20 per cent of the Indus' water before it reaches Pakistan but hasn't exercised that option in nearly 30 years.
On Monday, while reviewing the treaty, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, "Blood and water cannot flow together." India has thus far not scrapped the treaty, but some media reports suggest the Indian government may consider that option if Pakistan didn't end hostilities.
Some observers have suggested that India should revoke the agreement as a retaliatory move against Pakistan following the militant attack in Uri last week that led to 18 army casualties. However, ecology experts have warned that doing so could result in massive flooding in Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, a former federal law minister in Pakistan, told Dawn that if India were to stop the flow of the waters of the rivers, it would set up an international precedent that would be closely watched by neighbouring China, which could use that as an argument to suspend the waters of the Brahmaputra river.
"India may have already damaged itself by even considering the suspension of water flow as an upper riparian and the Chinese government must be watching Indian moves with interest," Soofi said.
with PTI inputs