Kashmir & IWT

Print edition : July 07, 2017

KASHMIR’S leaders were kept in the picture fully on the Indus Waters Treaty, as N.D. Gulhati recorded: “Advantage was also taken, during my visit to New Delhi in the first half of August, to review the provisions of the treaty with its annexures with representatives of the State governments of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan as well as with Secretary, Law Ministry.”

Daniel Haines goes further in his book Indus Divided. “During the 1950s, water policy was part of New Delhi’s steps to integrate Jammu & Kashmir State more closely into the Indian Union. As early as 1949 Niranjan Das Gulhati, a senior engineer in India’s Ministry of Works, Mines and Power and later (from 1954) leader of the water dispute negotiating delegation, advocated incorporating Kashmir rights on existing and future withdrawals from the Jhelum and Chenab in any settlement with Pakistan on the canal waters dispute. Gulhati’s recommendation rather contradicted contemporary Indian assertions that the canal dispute was about Punjab alone. When the 1954 Bank Plan proposed assigning the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan and the eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) to India, the Ministry of States wrote urgently to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, Jammu & Kashmir’s Chief Minister. It stressed the need to coordinate a case for protecting Jammu & Kashmir’s existing and future uses of the Jhelum and Chenab (the Indus main channel flowing wholly outside Indian-held territory). Ordinarily, State governments of the Indian Union had a limited role in the Indus negotiations, and both India and Pakistan expected Kashmir to be a water supplier rather than consumer. On this occasion, though, the Ministry wanted information on Jammu & Kashmir’s (small-scale) existing and projected water needs so that the delegation in Washington DC could represent these as part of the total Indian requirement for river waters in the Indus Basin.”

This reveals a lot, indeed.

Now, 60 years later, when the Kashmir dispute has assumed different dimensions, formulations similar to Article XI of the IWT can be worked out, provided there is a will to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

A.G. Noorani

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