Pakistan’s water-sharing problems continue as provinces remain at odds

Sana FatimaWeb Editor

25th Sep, 2021. 07:48 pm
Pakistan's water-sharing problems

Pakistan’s water-sharing problems

Despite having one of the world’s greatest irrigation systems, river water disputes with India and later between provinces have given headaches to successive governments over the past 70 years.

Feisal Naqvi, a Lahore-based water expert, told Anadolu Agency on the eve of World Rivers Day, that Sindh and Punjab have been fighting over water distribution since before India’s independence and split in 1947.

“This is not a new issue. It was inherited by Pakistan at the time of independence [in 1947],” said Naqvi, who has also represented Pakistan as an attorney in its legal battle on water dispute with India.

The thrust of the dispute is over the distribution of water from the mighty Indus River, which together with other western rivers Jhelum and Chenab go to Pakistan in line with a 1960 water-sharing agreement between India and Pakistan brokered by the World Bank.

The Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi rivers in eastern India were allotted to India under the mentioned agreement. Around 18 million hectares of fertile land are irrigated by these rivers.

For decades, Punjab and Sindh have been at odds over the sharing of water from the Indus River.

Balochistan also accuses Sindh of stealing its water.

In 1991, an accord was arrived at to settle the decades-long controversy. The spirit of the agreement, according to Naqvi, was suffocated by the provinces’ differing interpretations.

Punjab and Sindh get 55m and 48m acres feet water (MAF) annually out of a total of 142 MAF under the 1991 water accord.

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