Indicating action against Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said ‘blood & water can’t flow together at the same time’ in meeting with Water ministry officials on Indus Waters treaty.
Held amidst heightened tension between the India and Pakistan, the meeting also decided to set up a inter-ministerial task forces to go into the details and working of the Treaty with a “sense of urgency”, senior government sources said.
Attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, the Water Resources Secretary, and senior PMO officials, the meeting also noted that the meeting of Indus Water Commission can “only take place in atmosphere free of terror”. The Commission has held 112 meetings so far.
“Prime Minister’s Modi’s message at the meeting was that ‘rakt aur paani ek saath nahin beh sakta’ (blood and water cannot flow together),” sources said.
Apart from deciding to exploit to the maximum the capacity of three of the rivers that are under Pakistan’s control – Indus, Chenab and Jhelum– in the areas of hydro power, irrigation and storage, the meeting also agreed to review the “unilateral suspension” of Tulbul navigation project in 1987.
The sources asserted that the decision to maximise the water resources for irrigation will address the “pre-existing” sentiment of people of Jammu and Kashmir, who have complained in the past about the treaty not being fair to them.
The meeting came as India weighed its options to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack that left 18 soldiers dead, triggering demands that the government scrap the water distribution pact to mount pressure on that country.
Under the treaty, which was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in September 1960, water of six rivers – Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – were to be shared between the two countries.
Pakistan has been complaining about not receiving enough water and gone for international arbitration in a couple of cases.
India-Pakistan relations took a hit after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July, and even more so after the terrorist attack on Uri base in Jammu and Kashmir by Jaish-e-Mohammed militants that killed 19 soldiers. Last week, External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup had told the media that “for any such treaty to work, you need mutual trust and goodwill. I will leave it at that”.
Responding to a question from the media, Swarup had said last week that “it cannot be a one-sided affair”, adding that the government will rethink on the Treaty given the growing strain between the two countries. He also noted that the preamble of the Treaty itself said it was based on “goodwill”.
India’s assertion came amid calls that the government should scrap the water distribution pact to mount pressure on Pakistan in the aftermath of the audacious Uri terror attack.