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Abstract

For many arid and semiarid countries, international water bodies are the only new additional sources of water that could be economically developed to meet their ever increasing water requirements. Agreements between cobasin countries are necessary if such sources are to be developed promptly and properly. While some attempt is now being made to develop laws of nonnavigable uses of international watercourses, regrettably not enough attention has been paid thus far to review the negotiating processes that have led to successful water treaties. The present paper is an analysis of the negotiating process that resulted in the Indus River Treaty between India and Pakistan.
Indus Water Treaty: the Negotiating Process
by Asit K. Biswas, F. IWRA
76
Woodstock Close
Oxford OX2
8DD
United Kingdom
ABSTRACT
For many arid and semiarid countries, international water bodies are the only new additional sources
of water that could be economically developed to meet their ever increasing water requirements.
Agreements between cobasin countries are necessary
if
such
sources are to be developed promptly and
properly. While some attempt is now being made to develop laws of nonnavigable uses of international
watercourses, regrettably not enough attention has been paid thus far to review the negotiating processes
that have led to successful water treaties. The present paper is an analysis of the negotiating process
that resulted in the Indus River Treaty between India and Pakistan.
INTRODUCTION
It is increasingly being realized that water is one
of the major constraints to development in arid and
semiarid countries, where the availability of adequate
quantity and quality of water for various uses has
already become a very difficult problem. All the
current trends indicate that the complexity and mag-
nitude of this problem would increase significantly in
the foreseeable future. Recent analyses indicate that
only three countries in the Middle East
-
Turkey,
Iran, and Sudan
-
could have per capita water con-
sumption that would be higher than the currently
accepted minimum because of supply constraints
[I].
It is now evident that the water requirements in
arid and semiarid countries would continue to in-
crease in the foreseeable future, due to increases in
both population and per capita water demand. Un-
fortunately, however, such countries are mostly un-
likely to have very many new sources of water that
could be developed economically This is because
nearly all the easily available sources of water have
already been developed or are in the process of
development
[2].
Far many arid and semiarid countries, the only
new sources of water that could be developed eco-
nomically are the international water bodies. These
water sources have not been developed in the past,
primarily because of the political complexities asso-
ciated with their utilization. However, as water scarc-
ities in individual countries become more and more
serious, a few countries may have no other alternative
but to consider how best to use that resource, even
Development and management
of international water bodies
would become an increasingly
critical issue
though it could mean resorting to a “beggar thy
neighbour” attitude. Thus, development and man-
agement of international water bodies would become
an increasingly critical issue in the 1990s and beyond.
After some three decades of comparative neglect,
international water bodies have started to get more
and more attention. However, the emphasis has often
been on listing of treaties on various international
watercourses, or on development of a possible frame-
work convention under the aegis of the International
Law Commission of the United Nations. Regrettably,
very little, if any, attention has been paid to the
negotiating processes used that have led to successful
treaties on international watercourses. In order to fill
this gap, the process used for negotiating one of the
most successful treaties of the last four decades
-
the Indus River Treaty
-
is analyzed in this paper.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND TO
CONFLICT
Irrigation in the Indus Valley has been practised
since prehistoric times. These, however, were small
Water International, 17 (1992) 201-209
0
IWRA/Printed in the U.S.A.
scale projects, and the total extent of land irrigated,
as to be expected, was somewhat limited.
The situation started to change dramatically from
about the middle of the 19th century. A new era in
irrigation was heralded in 1859, when the Upper
Bari
Doub Canal (UBDC) was completed. The canal ir-
rigated about one million acres of land between the
Ravi and
Beas
Rivers with the water from the Ravi.
Sirhind Canal was completed in 1872. In addition to
the construction of the new canals, many old canals
were rehabilitated, extended and improved. Conse-
quently, irrigated area in the Sind doubled from about
1.5 million acres to 3.0 million acres within a short
period of 25 years, between 1875 and 1900.
Interstate rivalries over water were not a serious
problem in the Indus Valley until after the First World
War. For example, irrigation officers in Punjab rec-
ommended the concept of efficient utilization of water
as early as in 1862
[3]:
“The best line for a canal is that from which the
largest extent of country can be irrigated at the
smallest cost, irrespective of the name or nature of
the existing Government of the country in ques-
tion.”
This concept was subsequently accepted by the Indian
Government and the main recommendations of the
Indian Irrigation Commission of 1901-1903 were
based on this principle.
When new major irrigation projects like the Sutlej
Valley, Sukkur Barrage, and Bhakra projects were
proposed after the First World War to increase irri-
gated area in the Indus Basin, interstate concerns
began to become an issue on the upstream-down-
stream water availability. The parties concerned in
this dispute were the British-ruled provinces of Punjab
and Bombay and the Indian states of Bahawalpur
and Bikaner. It should be noted that Sind was a part
of the Province of Bombay until 1935. Since at that
time the Government of India and the Secretary of
State for India in London had the authority to settle
interstate water conflicts by an executive order, they
did so by sanctioning Sutlej Valley and Sukkur Barrage
Projects after discussions and consultations with the
various parties concerned. The Bhakra Project could
not be authorized because the reservoir would have
inundated land in the princely state of Bilaspur, and
the agreement of the ruler to the inundation was only
obtained around 1945
[4].
The aforementioned authority by which the Gov-
ernment of India could resolve interstate conflicts by
an executive order became invalid with the passage
of the Government of India Act of 1935. This Act,
which became effective from 1 April 1937, made
water primarily a subject of provincial jurisdiction.
Accordingly, provinces were empowered to develop
their own water resources. Only when there was a
dispute over an interstate river between two or more
provinces, and one province officially complained
against the other, the Governor-General of India was
empowered to intervene.
So far as the Indus River system was concerned,
Sind became somewhat concerned over the potential
impact of several new irrigation schemes that were
being investigated for possible execution by Punjab.
Subsequently, in October 1939, Sind formally re-
quested the Governor-General of India to constitute
a commission under the new 1935 Act referred to
earlier to review their complaint that:
“the effect of Punjab’s new projects, when super-
imposed upon the full effects of its projects already
approved or executed, would be to cause such
lowering of water levels in the Indus River from
May to October as would seriously affect the effi-
cient working of
Sind’s
inundation canals; and
That the Thal and Haveli Projects would create
a serious shortage of water at Sukkur in winter
such as would interfere with the supplies required
by the Sukkur Barrage Canals.”
The Indus Commission was set up in September
1941 under the chairmanship of Justice B.N. Rau.
The Commission submitted its report in July 1942.
The overall conclusion of the Indus Commission was
that the withdrawals by Punjab were likely to cause
material injury to the inundation canals in Sind,
especially in the month of September. It also made
some specific recommendations on the sharing of the
Indus waters during the winter season. The findings
of the Commission
-
not unexpectedly
-
were un-
acceptable to both the provinces. The stage was thus
set to refer the dispute to the British Government in
London for a solution.
As a last ditch effort, the Chief Engineers of the
two provinces met informally between 1943 and 1945
to see if a mutually acceptable agreement could be
reached by the two parties. In September 1945, the
two Chief Engineers produced a draft agreement, but
this could not be agreed to by the two provinces.
Finally, in early 1947, it was decided to refer the
dispute to the Secretary of State for India in London
for a final decision.
The timing of the referral of the dispute to the
British Government turned out to be inappropriate.
On 15 August 1947, before any decision could be
reached, creation of the two independent states of
India and Pakistan made any further attempts to the
conflict resolution by the British Government an
irrelevant process. Furthermore, the Indian Inde-
pendence Act of 1947 made conflict resolution more
The timing of the referral
.
.
.
turned out to be inappropriate
202
Water International
difficult and complex since the eastern districts of
Punjab became part of India whereas the western
districts of Punjab and Sind became part of Pakistan.
Prior to the partition of the Indus Basin in 1947, the
conflict over the sharing of the waters of the Indus
system was between two provinces of the same coun-
try. The partition of India meant that the two parties
were no longer within one country, but parts of two
new sovereign states, and not exactly on the most
friendly terms with each other.
INDEPENDENCE AND THEREAFTER
Partition of India into two independent countries
had to be carried out within a record period of only
73 days. In fact, when the Indian Independence Act
was passed by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947,
the boundary line that was to divide Punjab into two
new countries was not even determined. Accordingly,
the Punjab Boundary Commission was set up under
the chairmanship of Sir Cyril Radcliffe to divide the
province into East and West Punjab.
Drawing a boundary between two countries is a
difficult task under the best of circumstances. In
Punjab, the Commission found that the issue was:
“complicated by the existence of the canal systems,
so vital to the life of Punjab but developed only
under the conception of a single administration.”
Radcliffe contacted both the leaders of India and
Pakistan, Nehru and Jinnah, with the idea that the
“Punjab Water System should be a joint venture run
by both countries”
[5].
However, Radcliffe was:
“rewarded for his suggestion by a joint Hindu-
Muslim rebuke. Jinnah told him to get on with his
job and inferred that he would rather have Pakistan
deserts than fertile fields watered by courtesy of
Hindus. Nehru curtly informed him that what India
did with India’s rivers was India’s affair. Both leaders
were obviously furious with him and hinted that
he was playing politics.”
Michel
[6]
later made an issue of this remark by
Nehru. However, in a footnote Mosley added that:
“It must in fairness be admitted that he (Nehru)
modified this attitude later and subsequently became
one of the prime movers in the agreement on River
Waters which was signed between India and Pakistan
in 1960.”
The Radcliffe Commission found it impossible to
“preserve undivided the irrigation system of the Upper
Bari
Doab Canal,” the upper portion of which lay in
India but the lower portion in Pakistan, and suggested
that “a solution may be found by agreement between
the two States for some joint control of what has
hitherto been a valuable common service.” There was
no immediate problem for the rest of the canal systems
that supplied water to more than 95 per cent of the
total irrigated area
[4].
Of these canal systems, 133
were in Pakistan and 12 in India.
With the rapidly deteriorating situation between
the two new countries, the possibility of joint control
of the Upper
Bari
Daab Canal (UBDC) was not a
feasible solution. However, a temporary solution was
found by each of the two Chief Engineers of West
and East Punjab on 10 December 1947, to maintain
the prepartition allocation on the UBDC and at
Ferozepur. This “Standstill Agreement” was to con-
tinue until 3 1 March 1948, and it was stipulated that
“a further agreement for any period subsequent to
the aforesaid date” could be negotiated.
The “Standstill Agreement” worked satisfactorily
for the duration it was negotiated. What precisely
happened towards its end is hard to judge. Both
Gulahti
[4]
and Rao
[7]
claim that either deliberately
or accidentally West Punjab did not take any initiative
until 3 1 March 1948, the date of expiry of the
Agreement, to negotiate any further agreement. On
1 April 1948, India discontinued the delivery of water
from the Ferozepur headworks to Dipalpur Canal
and to main branches of the UBDC.
Chaudhuri Muhammad
Ali
[8],
who was the Sec-
retary-General of Pakistan at that time and who later
became the Prime Minister, said of the event:
“On the side of East Punjab there was Machiavel-
lian duplicity. On the part of West Punjab there
was neglect of duty, complacency, and lack of
common prudence
-
which had disastrous con-
sequences on Pakistan.”
Michel[6], on the other hand, has suggested several
other motives for the Indian action to discontinue
delivery of irrigation water. Among the motives sug-
gested were the following:
i) put pressure on Pakistan to withdraw the “vol-
unteers” from Kashmir;
ii) certain Indian leaders wanted to “use every
means at their disposal to wreck her (Pakistan’s)
economy, to demonstrate that she could not
succeed alone, and thus to bring her back to
India,” and denial of irrigation water would
expedite the process; and
iii) retaliation by India for Pakistan’s imposition
of an export duty on raw jute leaving East
Bengal for processing in the jute mills of West
Bengal.
Be that as it may, the incident of 1 April 1948
precipitated the formal dispute between the two coun-
tries over sharing the waters of the Indus System.
Negotiations were soon under way, and on 30 April
1948 Prime Minister Nehru issued explicit orders to
the East Punjab Government to resume water supply
to the UBDC and to open the Dipalpur Canal.
It is difficult at present to identify the main reason
or reasons for the 1 April 1948 incident. Since there
were many actors involved, it is highly likely that
Vol. 17, No. 4 (1992)
203
their motivations were not all the same. However,
Gulahti
[4]
points out that some 17 months after the
incident, Prime Minister Nehru took East Punjab
Government and its engineers to task for “having
taken the law in their own hands.”
An inter-Dominion Conference was held in New
Delhi during 3-4 May 1948, and on 4 May, the two
countries signed an Agreement, which assured Paki-
stan that India had no intention of suddenly with-
holding water from Pakistan without giving it time
to develop alternate sources. Similarly Pakistan for
its part recognized the natural anxiety of India to
develop areas where water was scarce and that were
underdeveloped when compared with parts of West
Punjab.
There were some hard negotiations before the Delhi
Agreement was signed. For example, India argued
that since Pakistan had agreed to pay for water under
the Standstill Agreement of December 1947, it meant
Pakistan had recognized India’s proprietary right to
water. Pakistan in its turn argued that payments were
not for the water received, since it belonged to Pak-
istan anyway due to the right of prior allocation, but
for the cost of operation and maintenance of the
It is highly likely that their
motivations were not all the
same
irrigation system. The Delhi Agreement did not spe-
cifically resolve this issue, but the West Punjab Gov-
ernment “agreed to deposit immediately in the Re-
serve Bank such ad hoc sum as may be specified by
the Prime Minister of India.”
While Delhi Agreement temporarily solved the
pressing issues, Pakistan was not happy with it. Con-
sequently on 16 June 1949, Pakistan sent a note to
India with the view that the “present modus vivendi
(Delhi Agreement) is onerous and unsatisfactory to
Pakistan,” and that another inter-Dominion Confer-
ence should be held early in order to make “an
equitable apportionment of the flow of all waters
common to Pakistan and India and resolving by
agreement all disputes incidental to the use of these
waters.” Furthermore, if “negotiations cannot accom-
plish such a practical solution, the International Court
of Justice shall, upon application of either party, have
jurisdiction to resolve the dispute.”
Many notes were exchanged between the two coun-
tries, some of which were at the highest government
level.
Overall,
however, India was not agreeable to
third party adjudication. For example, on 8 October
1950, Prime Minister Nehru wrote to the Pakistani
204
Prime Minister Liaquat
Ali
Khan suggesting an In-
ternational Commission consisting of equal number
of judges from both the countries. Nehru said:
“It is true that there is always a possibility of a
lack of agreement between the members of the
Commission, but if they are judges of the highest
standing, they will consider the issues before them
in a judicial spirit and are highly likely to come to
a unanimous or majority decision. Even if they fail
to agree, the area of difference will have been
narrowed down by the measure of agreement
reached and only the outstanding point or points
of difference will remain to be dealt with. The two
Governments could then consider the matter afresh,
including the question of reference to a third party.
To think, ab initio, of a third party will lessen the
sense of responsibility of the judges and will also
be a confession of our continued dependence on
others. That would hardly be becoming for proud
and self-respecting independent nations.”
It was quite clear that by 1950 the two countries
had reached almost a dead end so far as any further
progress on the sharing of the water of the Indus
system was concerned. Among the disputed issues
were the following:
i)
ii)
iii)
Pakistan claimed that the Delhi Agreement on
4 May 1948 was accepted under “compulsion”
and “signed under duress.” To this claim Nehru
replied to Mohammed
Ali
on 29 September
1954: “A more extraordinary statement I do
not remember to have come across at any
time.
..
.
It took two years for your Govern-
ment to discover that the Agreement was signed
under duress.”
Pakistan wanted to refer the canal water dispute
to the International Court of Justice, but India
preferred an, ad hoc tribunal with an equal
number of judges “of the highest judicial stand-
ing” selected by both the countries.
There were some difficulties with the ad hoc
sum that the West Punjab Government had to
deposit with the Reserve Bank of India under
the Delhi Agreement mentioned earlier.
With the brief exceptions of the winter of
1953-54
when the U.S.-Pakistan arms agreement was being
negotiated and during an impasse in the final Treaty
negotiations, India scrupulously observed the Delhi
Agreement until 1960, when the new Treaty became
effective.
By 1950 the two countries had
reached almost a dead end
Water International
EXTERNAL INTERVENTIONS
The stalemate in negotiations may have continued
for a much longer time, except for the arrival in India
in February 1951 of David E. Lilienthal, former
Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA),
to write some articles for
Colliers
magazine. Lilienthal
was an influential person, and Indians were very
much interested at that time in a TVA type of river
basin development, so much so that Prime Minister
Nehru had invited him to come to India as his
personal guest. It was Walter Lippman who suggested
to Lilienthal that he also should visit Pakistan since
the core of the Kashmir problem stems from a
“struggle over rivers, rivers with their headwaters in
the Kashmir, flowing through Pakistan.” Lippman felt
that Lilienthal, with his vast experience in river basin
development might “even be able to produce some
kind of practical answer
[9].
On his return, Lilienthal [10]. outlined some of his
own ideas on the Indus Basin that are worth quoting:
“The starting point should be, then, to set to rest
Pakistan’s fears of deprivation and a return to
desert. Her present use of water should be confirmed
by India, provided she works together with India
(as I believe she would) in a joint use of this truly
international river basin on an engineering basis
that would also (as the facts make clear it can)
assure India’s future use as well.
The urgent problem is how to store up now
wasted waters, so they can be fed down and dis-
tributed by engineering works and canals, and used
by both countries, rather than permitted to flow to
the sea unused. This is not a religious or political
problem, but a feasible engineering and business
problem for which there is plenty of precedent and
relevant experience.
This objective, however, cannot be achieved by
the countries working separately; the river pays no
attention to partition
-
the Indus, she ‘just keeps
rolling along’ through Kashmir and India and Pak-
istan. The whole Indus system must be developed
as a unit
-
designed, built and operated as a unit,
as is the seven-state TVA system back in the U.S.
Jointly financed (perhaps with World Bank help)
an Indus Engineering Corporation, with represen-
tation by technical men in India, Pakistan and the
World Bank, can readily work out an operating
scheme for storing water wherever dams can best
store it, and for diverting and distributing water.”
Eugene R. Black, the then President of the World
Bank and a close friend of Lilienthal read the article,
and reacted enthusiastically. He called Lilienthal and
asked his suggestions as to how to get the talk started.
Liiienthal suggested that Black should write directly
to the two Prime Ministers, Nehru and Liaquat
Ali
Khan, which he did in September 195 1. Both Nehru
and Liaquat
Ali
Khan formally accepted the initiative
in their letters of 25 September 195 1.
Unfortunately Liaquat
Ali
Khan was assassinated
on 16 October 195
1.
So on 8 November 195
1,
Black
wrote to Nehru and Khawja Nazimuddin, the new
Prime Minister of Pakistan, explicitly outlining the
“essential principles” of the Lilienthal proposal as
follows:
“The Indus basin water resources are sufficient to
continue all existing uses and to meet the further
needs of both countries for water from that source.
The water resources of the Indus basin should be
cooperatively developed and used in such a manner
as most effectively to promote the economic de-
velopment of the Indus basin viewed as a unit.
The problem of development and use of the
Indus basin water resources should be solved on a
functional and not a political plane, without rela-
tion to past negotiations and past claims and in-
dependently of political issues.”
Black then suggested the following process for ne-
gotiations that seemed “to afford the best prospects”:
“India and Pakistan would each designate a qual-
ified engineer of high standing to prepare, jointly
with the designee of the other, a comprehensive
long-range plan for the most effective utilisation of
the water resources of the Indus basin in the
development of the region. Each designee would
be instructed to govern himself by the principles
stated above
.
.
.
An engineer selected by the Bank would be
continuously available during the planning stage to
work with the designees of the two countries. He
would keep himself informed of the planning in
view of the Bank’s previously expressed readiness
to consider financing proposals and would partic-
ipate in the working party as an impartial adviser,
free to express his views on any aspect of the
matter.
.
.
He could thus assist in solving problems
without being in the position of an arbitrator.
.
.
The working party would hold an initial meeting
for the purpose of determining the procedure to be
followed in working out the plan, the steps needed
to be taken, the order and manner in which those
steps would be undertaken, and the persons by
whom they would be undertaken, and would set
target dates for completion of the various steps. On
reaching agreement on these matters, the working
party would promptly, without the need of any
further authorization, put the agreed procedure into
effect and begin work on the plan
.
.
.”
In January and February 1952, Black held personal
discussions with Nehru in Delhi and Nazimuddin in
Karachi, and then he confirmed in his letter of 13
March 1952 to the two leaders that he found “com-
mon understanding as to the basis on which we can
Vol. 17, No. 4 (1992)
205
go forward under the Lilienthal proposal.” In addition,
he recorded the official agreement of both parties that
“While the co-operative work continues with the
participation of the Bank neither side will take any
action to diminish the supplies available to the other
side for existing uses.”
The first meeting of the Working Party consisting
of three teams
-
Indian and Pakistani engineers and
the Bank team
-
met in Washington in May 1952.
They had specific technical terms of reference “to
prepare an outline of program and lists of studies for
possible technical measures to increase the supplies
of water possible from the Indus System of rivers for
purposes of economic development.”
After three weeks of intensive discussion, the Work-
ing Party agreed on the following outline for a
pro-
gramme:
“Determination of the total water supplies of the
Indus Basin and their subdivision into such cate-
gories as either side requests.
Determination of the water requirements of the
cultivable irrigable areas in each country, such areas
to be specifically shown on an index map, and the
subdivision of these requirements into such cate-
gories as either side requests.
Calculation of such derivative data and collection
and compilation of such further basic data and
making of such surveys and investigations as either
side requests for working out a comprehensive plan.
Preparation of a comprehensive plan.
Preparation of cost estimates and determination
of a construction schedule of new engineering works
including in the comprehensive plan.”
It was also noted that:
“The Working Party will collect and verify the
engineering accuracy of all data whether expressly
mentioned above, mutually agreed to or requested
by either side but the acceptance of any data or
the inclusion of any topic of study in the programme
does not commit either side as to its relevance or
materiality. If such data is not available, the matter
will be discussed by the Working Party and agree-
ment reached as to the time required for its col-
lection and estimated cost thereof. When the time
and cost in a particular case are unusual the Work-
ing Party will reconsider the advisability of collect-
ing the data.”
During the next two meetings in Karachi in No-
vember 1952 and in Delhi in January 1953, the two
countries were unable to agree on a common approach
to developing the waters of the Indus System. The
World Bank then suggested that the two countries
prepare their own plans. These plans were submitted
to the Bank on 6 October 1953.
The Bank summarized the two plans for water use
and allocations in millions of acre-feet (maf) as
follows:
For
&
m
I&
Pakistan Usable Water
i) Indian plan
29 90
119
ii) Pakistani plan
15.5 102.5 118
Thus, even though the two plans came to somewhat
similar estimates of total water available for irrigation
development, they differed widely in terms of allo-
cation to the two countries.
After some discussions and some concessions by
the two parties, the Indian plan to allocate usable
water supplies became:
To India: all of the Eastern rivers and seven per
cent of the Western rivers
To Pakistan: none of the Eastern rivers and 93 per
cent of the Western rivers.
In contrast, the Pakistani plan was:
To India: thirty per cent of the Eastern rivers
and none of the Western rivers
To Pakistan: seventy per cent of the Eastern rivers
and all of the Western rivers.
With this stalemate between the two parties, the
World Bank concluded on 5 February 1954, that
unless there is some new development “there is no
The two plans
.
.
.
differed
widely in terms of allocation
prospect of further progress in the Working Party.”
The Bank then went on to make its own proposal
that had the “concurrence of the engineering con-
sultants to the Bank Representative and is put forward
with the full support of the management of the Bank.”
The Bank proposal was as follows:
“The entire flow of the Western rivers (Indus,
Jhelum and Chenab) would be available for the
exclusive use and benefit of Pakistan, except for
the insignificant volume of Jhelum flow presently
used in Kashmir.
The entire flow of the Eastern rivers (Ravi,
Beas
and Sutlej) would be available for the exclusive use
and benefit of India, and for development by India,
except that for a specified transition period India
would continue to supply from these rivers, in
accordance with an agreed schedule, the historic
withdrawals from these rivers in Pakistan.
The transition period would be calculated on the
basis of the time estimated to be required to com-
plete the link canals needed in Pakistan to make
transfers for the purpose of replacing supplies from
India. A temporary cooperative administration
would be needed to supervise the carrying out of
the transitional arrangements. Each country would
206
Water International
construct the works located on its own territories
which are planned for the development of the
supplies. The costs of such works would be borne
by the country to be benefitted thereby. Although
no works are planned for joint construction by the
two countries, certain link canals in Pakistan will,
as stated above, be needed to replace supplies from
India. India would bear the costs of such works to
the extent of the benefits to be received by her
therefrom. An appropriate procedure would be
established for adjudicating or arbitrating disputes
concerning the allocation of costs under this prin-
ciple.”
The Bank proposal was given to both the parties
and was simultaneously transmitted to Nehru and
Muhammad
Ali,
who was by then the new Pakistani
Prime Minister. In his notes to the two Prime Min-
isters, Black said that the “submission of the proposal
had my full approval” and urged them to “examine
the proposal thoroughly and give it your approval.”
On 25 March 1954, India formally accepted the
“principles of the Bank proposal as the basis of
agreement.” Pakistan, however, had some difficulty
with the proposal. According to Lilienthal
[9],
the
proposal “hit the Karachi Government like a bomb-
shell.” Muhammad Ah later wrote:
“The Bank plan confronted Pakistan with an in-
tolerable situation. Vigorous representations were
made to the Bank that the flow supply of the
Western Rivers was totally inadequate to replace
Pakistan’s existing uses of the water from the
East-
em rivers. The construction of storage dams that
would be necessary to make up for the shortage
would be a costly and lengthy affair; and the Bank
plan made no provision for them. Even with such
a provision, Pakistan’s limited storage capacity would
be used merely to maintain her existing position
and could not be utilized for the developing needs
of her growing population. Like Alice in Wonder-
land, Pakistan would have to run as hard as she
could in order to remain where she was.”
On 8 July 1954, India commissioned the Bhakra
Canals. Nehru called the
Bhakra-Nangal
project “a
gigantic achievement and a symbol of the nation’s
energy and enterprise,” and not surprisingly the Pak-
istani Prime Minister considered it a “potential threat
to peace between the two countries.”
On 28 July 1954, Pakistan made a qualified ac-
ceptance of the Bank plan. After discussions with
both parties, Black proposed some specific terms of
reference and procedure on 13 August 1954. Even
with the new terms of reference, it was not possible
to make any progress till 21 May 1956, when the
Bank submitted an Aide Memoire pointing out the
need for storage on the Western Rivers for Pakistan
for her irrigation needs and the basis for India’s
financial liability for storage facilities and the enlarged
link canals. With the issuing of the Aide Memoire
and some clarifications, Pakistan accepted in principle
the Bank’s plan to allocate the Indus water as amended
by the Aide Memoire. In retrospect, this ended an-
other important phase of the Indus negotiation.
THE FINAL STAGE
The tempo of negotiations, however, did not in-
crease noticeably. On 24 April 1957, Nehru wrote to
Black expressing his concern “at the absence of any
progress during this period.” He went on to say:
“It was envisaged in the Bank Proposal that,
after.
.
.
about five years, it would not be necessary
to continue any supplies to Pakistan from the
Eastern rivers. Three of these five years have already
elapsed.
.
.
.
The Bhakra canals were opened in kharif
1954, the Bhakra Dam and the Sirhind Feeder will
soon come into operation and work has been taken
in hand on the construction of a canal from the
Headworks at Harike to feed the arid areas of
Rajasthan. These schemes form part of an inte-
grated development plan and you will appreciate
that they cannot be held up.
.
.
.”
The two countries then met in Rome in May 1958.
The Bank team managed to convince Pakistan that
storages on the Jhelum River should be used for
replacement, and not primarily on the Indus as Pak-
istan had been insisting until then. The Indus water
could be used for development purposes. The main
reason for taking this approach was that it would
substantially reduce the cost of replacement works,
which was the only expense India was willing to pay.
Pakistan could build other development works as long
as they had the financial capability to do so.
At the subsequent meeting in London, Pakistan
proposed a development plan with two major storage
dams, one on the Jhelum at Mangla and the other
on the Indus at Tarabela, as well as three smaller
dams on the Indus and Jhelum tributaries. New link
canals were also proposed. The total cost of this plan
was estimated at $1.12 billion.
Not unexpectedly, India objected to the extent and
cost of such replacement works. In turn, India pre-
sented an alternative plan in November 1958. India
claimed that their plan was not only more economical
but also would take much less time for execution
than the Pakistani plan. Furthermore, since a major
part of the replacement works would have to be
carried out by India, she would guarantee the supplies
and the time schedule under the Treaty.
The Indian plan was not acceptable to Pakistan
since she had no intention of being dependent on
India for irrigation water, especially after her experi-
ence immediately after the independence.
By this time, it was clear to the Bank team that a
Vol. 17, No. 4 (1992)
207
treaty would be possible provided the following con-
ditions are met:
For
India
i) India received the rights to waters of the
Eastern Rivers;
ii) cost of replacement works to be borne by
India is manageable.
For Pakistan
i) replacement and development works had be-
come inseparable, and thus it was necessary
to agree on a proposed set of works, and then
procure funds for their development.
In May 1959, Black visited India and Pakistan. In
his discussion with Nehru, he suggested that India’s
contribution to the replacement works be fixed at a
specific figure, irrespective of the final cost. He also
agreed to provide financial assistance to India for the
construction of the
Beas
Dam. With these two con-
ditions, Nehru was agreeable to a lo-year transition
period during which water to Pakistan would be
provided. In Pakistan, Black met with President Ayub
Khan and agreed to look favourably at a realistic
replacement-cum-development plan, including Mangla
and Tarabela Dams.
With these developments, Black was able to make
a statement to the press on 18 May 1959:
.
.
.
I think I can now say that we have succeeded
in establishing certain general principles acceptable
to both governments, that afford a firm basis for
negotiating a final settlement. I am now returning
to firm up with the Friendly Governments the
amount of financial aid they will be prepared to
extend; and I am hopeful that within the next two
months it will be possible for the Bank to invite
representatives of India and Pakistan to meet with
the Bank for the purpose of working out Heads of
Agreement for an International Water Treaty.”
By August 1959, Black managed to put together a
consortium of countries
-
the United States, Canada,
the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Ger-
many, Australia, and New Zealand
-
to underwrite
an Indus Basin development programme. When the
Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement was com-
pleted in September 1960, the total cost of works in
Pakistan was specified to be $893.5 million. The
Consortium provided $541 million to Pakistan as
grants. The Indian contribution was fixed at $174
million, and in addition Pakistan received $150 mil-
lion in loans. In a supplemental agreement, the Con-
sortium provided an additional $3 15 million in for-
eign exchange to Pakistan.
On 19 September 1960, the Indus Water Treaty
was signed in Karachi by Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru of India and Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub
Khan, President of Pakistan. The Treaty was subse-
quently ratified by the two governments, and the
The Indus Water Treaty was
signed in Karachi by.
.
.
Nehru.
.
.
and
.
.
.
Ayub Khan
ratifications were exchanged in Delhi in January 196 1.
The Treaty was retroactive from 1 April 1960.
INDUS WATERS TREATY
The Indus Waters Treaty contains twelve articles
covering 79 paragraphs. It has eight detailed annexes
that cover 102 pages. Under the Treaty, all the waters
of the Eastern Rivers
-
Sutlej,
Beas,
and Ravi
-
were allocated to India for unrestricted use, except
during the transition period of 1 April 1960 to 3 1
March 1970, during which water had to be supplied
to Pakistan according to the detailed specifications
laid out under Annexure H. The ten-year transition
period was the time allowed to Pakistan to construct
replacement works for water that was being received
earlier from the Eastern Rivers. India agreed to make
a fixed contribution of 62 million towards the cost
of the replacement works in 10 equal annual install-
ments, starting from 1960, payable on the first of
November of each year.
Pakistan received unrestricted use of the Western
Rivers
-
Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab
-
which India
is “under obligation to let flow” and “shall not permit
any interference with these waters,” except for irri-
gating existing areas and to develop a further 70 1,000
acres of irrigation from these rivers subject to certain
specific conditions.
Under Article VI, specific provisions were made
for regular exchange of river and canal data between
the two countries, and Article VII referred to future
cooperation. Under Article VIII, both countries un-
dertook to establish a permanent post of Commis-
sioner of Indus Waters, who should be “a high-ranking
engineer competent in the field of hydrology and
water reuse.” The two Commissioners will constitute
the Permanent Indus Commission, which will meet
at least once a year alternately in India and Pakistan.
Among the purpose and functions of the Commission
are to:
i) establish and promote cooperative arrange-
ments for the Treaty implementation;
ii) promote cooperation between the Parties in the
development of the waters of the Indus system;
iii)
examine and resolve by agreement any question
that may arise between the Parties concerning
interpretation or implementation of the Treaty;
and
208
Water International
iv) submit an annual report before the first of June
every year to the two Governments.
Article IX of the Treaty deals with the settlement
of differences and disputes. If the Commission is
unable to resolve a specific problem, provisions have
been made for reference to a Neutral Expert under
Article IX and Annexure E If the Neutral Expert fails
to solve the problem, a Court of Arbitration can be
convened under Article IX and Annexure G.
Concurrent to the signing of the Indus Waters
Treaty, Pakistan and the World Bank also signed the
Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement and the
Loan Agreement in Karachi on 19 September 1960.
This completed more than a decade of negotiations
between India and Pakistan to allocate peacefully the
waters of the Indus System for their development.
CONCLUDING REMARKS
has made important contributions to this area in
recent years. Regrettably the attitudes of the inter-
national organizations during the post-1960 period
have been to adopt a cautious “softly, softly” ap-
proach. This has meant that either they indicated to
the countries to resolve their problems on interna-
tional watercourses before they would consider any
financial assistance, or supported uncontroversial ac-
tivities like data collection, exchange of information
and organizing seminars and workshops. The lead-
ership basically became “risk averse.”
Clearly major international organizations and bi-
lateral aid agencies could play an important role on
possible resolution of conflicts in many watercourses
in developing countries. They need to play a more
direct and catalytic role than has been witnessed in
recent decades. Otherwise Mark Twain’s perceptive
comment that whisky is for drinking but water is for
fighting might come true.
An analysis of the negotiating process of the Indus
River Treaty clearly indicates the critical role of a
REFERENCES
This completed more than a
decade of negotiations
.
.
.
to
allocate peacefully
third party in facilitating such an agreement, provided
it can play an impartial but active and constructive
role, and supplement it with potential significant
financial aid on successful completion of the negoti-
ation. Eugene Black, the President of the World Bank,
showed his leadership by taking a personal interest
in attempting to resolve a difficult problem. The risk
he took by putting his personal reputation at stake is
clearly an indication of his foresight as well as concern
for the development of the Third World countries.
Without this leadership and the assistance of the
World Bank, the Indus River Treaty could not have
been signed within such a short period. His interest
undoubtedly contributed to the signing of probably
the most successful treaty on international water-
courses anywhere in the Third World during the past
four decades.
Unfortunately the leadership shown by Black has
been basically missing during the post-1960 period,
except for Mostafa Tolba, Executive Director of the
United Nations Environment Programme, who again
1.
Biswas,
Asit
K., “Management of International Waters:
Problems and Perspective,” Report to the United
Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya,
1992, 36 pp.
2. Biswas,
Asit
K., “Water for Sustainable Development
in the 21st Century: a Global Perspective,” Presi-
dential Address to the International Water Re-
sources Association, Water International, Vol. 16,
No. 4, December 1991, pp. 219-224.
3. Dyas, J.H., “Memorandum on Captain
Crofton’s
Pre-
liminary Report on the Sutlej Canal Project,” in
Agricultural Proceedings, No. 3, Govt. of Punjab,
22 Oct. 1962, p. 82.
4. Gulahti, N.D., Zndus Waters Treaty, Allied Publishers,
Bombay, India, 1973, 472 pp.
5.
Mosley, L., The Last Days of the British Raj, Harcourt,
Brace, and World, New York, New York, U.S.A.,
1962, pp. 198-199.
6.
Michel,
A.A., The Indus Rivers, Yale University Press,
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.A., 1967.
7. Rao, K.L., India’s Water Wealth, Orient
Longman,
New Delhi, India, 1975, pp. 203-205.
8.
Ali,
Chaudhri Muhammad, The Emergence of Paki-
stan, Columbia University Press, New York, New
York, U.S.A., 1967, p. 319.
9. Lilienthal, D.E., The Journals of David
E.
Lilienthal,
Vol. 3, Venturesome Years, 1950-1955, Harper
&
Row, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1966.
10. Lilienthal, D.E., “Another ‘Korea’ in the Making?”
Collier’s, 128, 4 August 1951, pp. 56-57.
Vol. 17, No. 4 (1992)
209
... When India was partitioned in August 1947, India and Pakistan signed a Standstill Agreement in December 1947 to maintain the status quo on the water channels crossing the newly drawn border for 3 months. When the Agreement expired, India stemmed the flow of water on 1 April 1948 from two of the canals flowing into downstream level, the factors considered responsible for the success of the Mediation included political stability in India, the military takeover in Pakistan, the need for water and finances for India and Pakistan to avert the post-partition crises, and the development of their agriculture-based economies (Ali, 1967;Khan, 1967;Mehta, 1988;Biswas, 1992;Alam, 1998Alam, , 2002Salman & Uprety, 2002;Wolf & Newton, 2008;Zawahri, 2011). However, the majority of these studies failed to take into account factors at the international level and their role in the success of the Mediation. ...
... However, his attitude changed later on and Nehru became more conciliatory and accommodative. Biswas (1992) has quoted Mosley who maintained, 'It must in fairness be admitted that he (Nehru) modified this attitude later and subsequently became one of the prime movers in the agreement on River Waters which was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960.' When the East Punjab government (India) stemmed water from the Upper Bari Doab and the Depalpur Canals flowing into downstream Pakistan on 1 April 1948, Nehru castigated the East Punjab officials for taking matters into their own hands (Gulhati, 1973). ...
... The water question became further complicated when Liaquat Ali Khan insisted on third-party mediation to resolve the water dispute. While quoting a letter from Nehru to Liaquat dated 8 October 1948, Biswas (1992) argued that Nehru did not turn down Liaquat's proposal for third-party mediation outright. Nehru suggested an International Commission consisting of an equal number of judges from both India and Pakistan to 'narrow down the difference.' ...
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... At the same time, the Ganges has a basin area of over 1.1 million km2, with only 4% of the catchment lying in Bangladesh. The Ganges-Brahmaputra system brought sediments during the post-Pleistocene period that shaped the Bengal deep-sea fan (Biswas 1992). The lower Brahmaputra, prominently known as Jamuna, has a length of 240 km from the point of entry into Bangladesh to its confluence point with the Ganges. ...
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Memorandum on Captain Crofton's Preliminary Report on the Sutlej Canal Project
  • J H Dyas
Dyas, J.H., "Memorandum on Captain Crofton's Preliminary Report on the Sutlej Canal Project," in Agricultural Proceedings, No. 3, Govt. of Punjab, 22 Oct. 1962, p. 82.
The Emergence of Pakistan
  • Chaudhri Ali
  • Muhammad
Ali, Chaudhri Muhammad, The Emergence of Pakistan, Columbia University Press, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1967, p. 319.
Another 'Korea' in the Making? " Collier's, 128
  • D E Lilienthal
Lilienthal, D.E., " Another 'Korea' in the Making? " Collier's, 128, 4 August 1951, pp. 56-57.