Indus Water Treaty

The partition of the Indian subcontinent created a conflict over the plentiful waters of the Indus basin. The newly formed states were at odds over how to share and manage what was essentially a cohesive and unitary network of irrigation. Furthermore, the geography of partition was such that the source rivers of the Indus basin were in India. Pakistan felt its livelihood threatened by the prospect of Indian control over the tributaries that fed water into the Pakistani portion of the basin. Where India certainly had its own ambitions for the profitable development of the basin, Pakistan felt acutely threatened by a conflict over the main source of water for its cultivable land. During the first years of partition the waters of the Indus were apportioned by the Inter-Dominion Accord of May 4, 1948. This accord required India to release sufficient waters to the Pakistani regions of the basin in return for annual payments from the government of Pakistan. The accord was meant to meet immediate requirements and was followed by negotiations for a more permanent solution. Neither side, however, was willing to compromise their respective positions and negotiations reached a stalemate. Pakistan wanted to take the matter to the International Court of Justice but India refused, arguing that the conflict required a bilateral resolution By 1951, the two sides were no longer meeting and the situation seemed intractable. India and Pakistan were on the verge of war over Kashmir. There seemed to be no possibility of negotiating this issue until tensions abated. One way to reduce hostility would be to concentrate on other important issues where cooperation was possible. Progress in these areas would promote a sense of community between the two nations which might, in time, lead to a Kashmir settlement. Accordingly, David Lilienthal, formerly the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and of the US Atomic Energy Commission proposed that India and Pakistan work out a program jointly to develop and jointly to operate the Indus Basin river system, upon which both nations were dependent for irrigation water. With new dams and irrigation canals, the Indus and its tributaries could be made to yield the additional water each country needed for increased food production. He suggested that the World bank intervene to settle the dispute.

Finally, in 1954, after nearly two years of negotiation, the World bank offered its own proposal, stepping beyond the limited role it had apportioned for itself and forcing the two sides to consider concrete plans for the future of the basin. The proposal offered India the three eastern tributaries of the basin and Pakistan the three western tributaries. Canals and storage dams were to be constructed to divert waters from the western rivers and replace the eastern river supply lost by Pakistan.While the Indian side was amenable to the World Bank proposal, Pakistan found it unacceptable. The World Bank allocated the eastern rivers to India and the western rivers to Pakistan. This new distribution did not account for the historical usage of the Indus basin,or the fact that West Punjab's Eastern districts could turn into dessert, and repudiated Pakistan's negotiating position. Where India had stood for a new system of allocation, Pakistan felt that its share of waters should be based on pre-partition distribution. The World Bank proposal was more in line with the Indian plan and this angered the Pakistani delegation. They threatened to withdraw from the Working Party and negotiations verged on collapse.

But neither side could afford the dissolution of talks. The Pakistani press met rumors of and end to negotiation with talk of increased hostilities; the government was ill-prepared to forego talks for a violent conflict with India and was forced to reconsider its position. India was also eager to settle the Indus issue; large development projects were put on hold by negotiations and Indian leaders were eager to divert water for irrigation.In December of 1954, the two sides returned to the negotiating table. The World Bank proposal was transformed from a basis of settlement to a basis for negotiation and the talks continued, stop and go, for the next six years.One of the last stumbling blocks to an agreement concerned financing for the construction of canals and storage facilities that would transfer water from the eastern Indian rivers to Pakistan. This transfer was necessary to make up for the water Pakistan was giving up by ceding its rights to the eastern tributaries. The World Bank initially planned for India to pay for these works, but India refused. The Bank responded with a plan for external financing supplied mainly by the United States and the United Kingdom. This solution cleared the remaining stumbling blocks to agreement and the Treaty was signed by the Prime Ministers of both countries in 1960.

Rann of Kutch dispute: 1965

The Rann of Kutch territory was one of several areas left in dispute after the partition of India. The Rann had no real economic value; the conflict seemed to be a military power struggle, with elements of prestige at stake. The area in dispute, extending out from the old fort of Kanjarkot, lies on the northern edge of the Rann of Kutch, a desolate area in Western India on the Arabian Sea. It is alternately salt flats and tidal basin. The area was admitted by both sides to be in dispute at the time of the Indo-Pakistani border negotiations of 1960. It was agreed at that time that further discussions would be held to explore the validity of the conflicting claims, and the two Governments agreed that pending further consideration of this dispute, neither side would disturb the status quo.In the spring of 1965, Pakistani tanks (received from the United States as part of its Military Assistance Program) entered the Rann of Kutch. The memoirs of senior Pakistani officers later revealed that the deployment of this American-supplied armor had two objectives. The first was to entice Indian armor away from northern India, where an attack on Kashmir was planned for later in the year. The second objective was to see how strongly the United States would protest Pakistan’s use of tanks it had provided, in clear violation of Pakistan’s commitment. The United States did protest, but it was ignored.The Indians became aware in January 1965 that Pakistani border police were patrolling below the Indian claim line. Pakistani patrolling south of Kanjarkot may have been going on for quite some time without the Indians knowing it. There was little doubt, however, that Pakistani occupation of Kanjarkot would have upset a long-standing status quo. When Indian patrols discovered that Pakistani posts had been established in area claimed by India, they accused Pakistan of aggression in the Rann of Kutch. At the end of March, Indian forces began large-scale maneuvers in the Rann, and the first clash occurred on March 20, 1965. Pakistan requested a cease-fire and negotiations. Indian and Pakistani representatives met on April 12 and 14, but fighting soon resumed.Pakistan then launched a major offensive from April 24th through April 29, 1965. On May 3, 1965, Pakistan stated that she was ready to put the dispute before the International Court of Justice. Great Britain made several proposals for a cease-fire during May. The two sides finally accepted the British proposals, and representatives met in Great Britain on June 17, 1965. An agreement was reached on June 30, 1965, which included the withdrawal of troops (from all disputed territories except the Kashmir cease-fire line), and an immediate cease-fire.

Sankalp Unit