Ruing that no great power is “nudging” India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue, Pakistan’s opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked New Delhi not to threaten his country by using human entitlements such as water as a “weapon”.
“I am not one to oversell our strategic location, but it does pivot us at a unique node of many potential regional collaborations. Yet instead of passing on the dividends of connectivity, we remain trapped in its nemesis, the corrosive flame of conflict,” Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party told a Washington audience.
“It is indeed a failure of the region’s leadership that South and Central Asia is unable to grow its potential as an economic and energy powerhouse. It is also failure of the international community’s stated commitment to peace that we see no great powers rushing to nudge India and Pakistan to resolve one of the oldest disputes on the UN’s roster of forgotten flashpoints,” he said.
For Pakistan, and even India and Asia, climate change is a very real danger, and Pakistan is on the frontline of recurring natural disasters, flooding and droughts,” Zardari said in his address to the US Institute of Peace, a top American think-tank.
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“As one of the 10 most water-stressed countries of the world, I know Pakistan cannot afford to be cavalier about shared resources. So I hope the current government in India does not repeat its threat of using human entitlements such as water as a weapon,” the Pakistani leader said, referring to the Indus Water Treaty.
He recalled that one of the world’s most successful water treaties actually holds down the distribution agreements between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank in the 1960s, enduring several wars as well as the fog of cold peace.
The treaty, signed in 1960, gives India control over the three eastern rivers of the Indus basin — the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — while Pakistan has the three western rivers — the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
The IWT also sets up a mechanism, the Permanent Indus Commission, which includes a commissioner from each country.
“Threatening this treaty’s abrogation is one of — is one example of how extremist postures in the region are failing the people of South Asia, blocking us from realising our potential as an engine of Asian and global growth. Our sheer population explosion in South Asia, already home to one-fifth of humanity, puts us in no position to normalise the language of war and exclusion as a policy tool, yet temperatures are rising all round,” Zardari said.