For Pakistan, Water Is Its 'Jugular Vein'

(Photo credit: George Becker, via Pexels)

(Photo credit: George Becker, via Pexels)

Water is Pakistan's "jugular vein" and the southwest Asian nation will do whatever it can to protect itself from a fatal blow there, a spokesperson for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry told reporters Wednesday.

The comment highlights Pakistan's anxiety over a dam that India recently inaugurated in Kashmir, the much-disputed territory between the two rivals in northwest India. The dam, according to Pakistani news reports, could "deplete" the water level of rivers that flow into Pakistan and goes against the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. 

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said upon inaugurating the dam last month that "this region can not only become self-sufficient in power but also produce for other regions of the country... Keeping that in mind we have been working on various projects here in the past four years."

According to The World Bank, which is a signatory to the 1960 treaty and something of an arbiter, Pakistan has unrestricted use to the river on which the dam was built, but India is also permitted to build hydroelectric power facilities there "subject to constraints" specified in annexes to the treaty.

Work on the dam began more than a decade ago, and a complex international bureaucratic battle has played out between India and Pakistan ever since. Most recently, the two have argued over the venue for resolution, with Pakistan pushing for an international Court of Arbitration and India pushing for the appointment of a "neutral expert." Pakistani reports say the World Bank sided with India and asked Pakistan to support the "neutral expert" avenue.

In comments recognizing World Environment Day (which flew by June 5), Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesperson said, "Pakistan is one of the most affected countries and is facing serious water problems."

Read More: Fact Sheet on India-Pakistan Water Conflict (The World Bank)

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