Selected Articles from Various News Paper: Civil Services Mentor Magazine - December 2016

Selected Articles from Various Newspapers & Journals

How the Indus Treaty was signed

Amongst the more prominent of the problems that bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan was the Indus Waters dispute. This was a legacy of the Partition. The line dividing the two Punjabs cut right across the Indus canal systems developed over a hundred years. Pakistan found that the headwaters of the main canals were on the Indian side of the border. All the five tributaries of the Indus also originated in India and flowed through Indian territory in the upper reaches. Even before Partition, Sindh and Punjab had witnessed wrangles over the sharing of the waters of these rivers. The situation worsened after the holocaust of the Partition. There were hysterical cries in Pakistan for taking up arms to defend their rights over the waters. Fortunately, an arbiter came forward in the garb of the World Bank that eventually succeeded in thrashing out a settlement. The main credit should go to Eugene Black, the World Bank president.

While the negotiations about the sharing of the canal waters were going on, officials from both countries were grappling with the demarcation of boundaries that had defied solution all those years. These disputes had arisen over the interpretation of the award of Radcliffe. Two teams were sent out by India to tackle the thorny problem [in 1959]. The discussions the Indians held with their Pakistani counterparts were in a spirit of friendship and cordiality hitherto unheard of in Pakistan. To a large extent, this was due to the fact that the leaders of the respective teams were old friends and college mates from pre-Partition Lahore. The leader on the Indian side was Sardar Swaran Singh; General Khalid Shaikh led the Pakistani team. Once these two men established their rapport, they left the details to their principal advisors: on the Indian side M.J. Desai, and on the other side Sikander Ali Baig. Once it was established that the main purpose of the exercise was to achieve maximum agreement and that neither side was out to steal an unfair advantage, it was easier to work out a solution. It was found that neither India nor Pakistan had an overwhelming case to be made on its stand on a particular dispute.

Meanwhile, Ayub Khan had taken another bold step. This was the decision to stop over at Palam airport in New Delhi [in September, 1959] during one of his periodic visits to Dacca, to meet the Indian Prime Minister. He was no doubt prompted to do so by Rajeshwar Dayal, the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan who had received prior approval from Delhi. The Pakistani President deserves full credit for following it through with good grace and aplomb. The Palam meeting, that lasted for nearly two hours, went well. At the end, a brief statement was issued in which the leaders emphasised the need to conduct relations in a rational and planned manner. It was also agreed that outstanding issues should be settled in accordance with justice and fair play, in a spirit of friendliness and cooperation.

Soon it was clear that bigger things were in the offing. The protracted negotiations about the distribution of the canal waters were drawing to a close. The agreement on the canal waters was the biggest single achievement to date between the two countries, and it was decided to have it signed with due pomp and show. This provided an appropriate opportunity for the Indian Prime Minster to reciprocate Ayub Khan’s stopover at Palam and to demonstrate the friendly relations that were developing between the two countries. The historic visit of Pandit Nehru from September 19 to September 23, 1960, was to be his last visit to Pakistan. While the arrangements of the visit were under discussion, Rajeshwar Dayal had to leave Pakistan. The task of organising Panditji’s visit fell on my shoulders. Fortunately, I had very able colleagues to help me.

Prime Minister Nehru’s visit commenced on a rather low key. The welcome at Karachi was formal and correct, but not enthusiastic. The decorations along the route from the airport to the presidential palace were minimal. By contrast, a lot of the local populace had gathered along the streets to have a glimpse of Panditji. But they did not cheer him. It was evident that the military authorities had ordained it that way.

The same evening was the signing of the Indus Waters Treaty. This was done with due decorum and solemnity. Nehru signed on behalf of India, Ayub Khan on behalf of Pakistan, and William Iliff, the vice-president of the World Bank, on behalf of the Bank. The treaty was based on the principle that after a transitional period of 10 years, extendable to 13 at the request of Pakistan, the three eastern rivers, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, would be exclusively allocated to India, while the western rivers, Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, would be allocated exclusively to Pakistan except for certain limited uses by India in the upstream areas. During the transition period, Pakistan would undertake a system of works, part of which would replace from the western rivers such irrigation uses in Pakistan as had hitherto been met from the eastern rivers. While the system of works was under construction, India would continue to supply water from the eastern rivers according to the agreed programme. The Indus works programme was estimated to cost around $1,070 million, of which $870 million was to be spent in Pakistan. It was a colossal undertaking.

However, the discussions that followed proved to be desultory and unproductive. It was clear that neither side was prepared for any major concessions. We talked primarily of trade between the two countries and for cooperation in economic spheres. A number of ideas were thrown out. Ayub Khan in a generous mood offered to divert the waters of the Indus River to the parched areas of Rajasthan by erecting a barrage in the lower reaches of the river; also to supply the Sui natural gas from Balochistan to the Bombay area. The Indian side in its turn agreed to consider sympathetically the proposal enabling Pakistan to run a through-train across India connecting Lahore and Dacca. Even cooperation and co-ordination in the military fields came under discussion. India expressed concern about Chinese activities on the northern border of Kashmir and emphasised the concern they felt about a possible threat to Pakistan also from them.

Troubled waters

By holding a meeting on the Indus Waters Treaty and scheduling another later this week on MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signalled his intent to examine all the non-military options before the government for a strong response to the Uri attack. “Blood and Water cannot flow together,” he is reported to have said. However, after the meeting, officials made it clear that the IWT will hold, at least for the moment. Instead, the Centre drew up a list of measures to optimise use of the Indus waters, that India has so far failed to do. The fact is that abrogating the IWT is a non-starter as an option, and the holding of the meeting at this juncture ill-considered. For one, it confused the message in Mr. Modi’s Kozhikode speech, appealing to Pakistani citizens’ better instincts to “wage a war on poverty”. More important, the 1960 treaty for the Indus and five tributaries flowing from India to Pakistan was brokered by the World Bank (then, the IBRD), and has held through wars and conflicts along the Line of Control. Revoking it would threaten regional stability and India’s credibility globally. It remains unclear what India intends to do with the “western” rivers in question beyond the short-term plan to irrigate Jammu and Kashmir’s fields better. Dams required to hold the course of the tributaries of the Indus to alter water levels to Pakistan dramatically would take more than a decade to build. Given the environmental and geopolitical consequences of such actions, they are unlikely to elicit any international funding.

It is clear that the Centre didn’t think through its next steps when it declared with a grand flourish, amplified by frenzied television headlines, that the Prime Minister would “review” the Treaty. But it did limit the potential damage by bringing down the heated rhetoric with a rational analysis on the Treaty. It would be wise if India proceeds with a sense of pragmatic caution in making further statements on Pakistan — for instance, revoking the MFN status will hardly punish Pakistan’s economy given the low levels of bilateral trade. Terrorist attacks such as the one at Uri require a combination of measured but firm responses, rather than weighing every option in full public view. India cannot also ignore the fact that the Uri attack has exposed the need to shore up its defences. As India has realised time and again, its response to provocation must carry the message that the country is dependable and not given to irrational, irresponsible actions that its neighbour is often prone to.

To revive an old friendship

The Russian Embassy announced that their first-ever joint military exercises with Pakistan, that were initially to be held in the sensitive Gilgit-Baltistan area this week, would be shifted with due respect to Indian sensitivities. Why is India’s time-tested strategic partner engaging with Pakistan at this juncture? Is there a shift in Russian geostrategy and linkage with China that is impacting Moscow’s relations with India? Have India’s own foreign policy shifts and new relations set off a reaction in Russia? The Russia-Pakistan joint exercises raise many questions.

India as an emerging power has developed a strategic partnership with the U.S. There are real and perceived shifts in Indian armament policies where Russia dominated for years. India has opened up to the U.S., France, Israel, all of whom are gradually edging out the Russians in some sectors. Russia-India trade has not grown to great heights despite the encouragement of both states. Yet India has been supportive of Russian positions and has a careful and calibrated response to all Russian actions — in Chechnya, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere, India has supported Russia. The Russians, on their part, have dutifully backed the Indian position on Kashmir; they share Indian concerns on terrorism; they continue with deep collaborations, providing sensitive technologies, military equipment, nuclear power engines and much more to India. They have a partnership in energy. Yet a Russia dependent on arms and energy exports is constantly looking for new markets and Pakistan is a potential one. The planned exercises were an extension of this search.

The reality is that the world situation is one of multipolarity and consequent interdependency, contradictions, compromises and pressures. Countries across the spectrum are building multiple alliances. There is scope for both linkages and dependency. So China, who we think the U.S. is trying to ‘contain’ (and India could get a role in this), has got its yuan accepted as world currency by the International Monetary Fund and the New York branch of Bank of China has been designated as the clearing house for the Chinese official currency, the renminbi. China is leveraging its economy and relationships to build a hegemony (G-2) with the U.S. where both can share international financial domination.

Russia is well aware of this, and has its own concerns about the Chinese dominating Russian markets, exploiting Russian resources, and not backing Russian security concerns. China is enticing countries, including Russia, with its One Belt, One Road plan that will develop huge new linkages and develop trade routes. Pakistan is a satellite state for China. Russia has concerns about Central Asia vis-à-vis China and Pakistan. In these circumstances, India has to rebuild on its strengths and common concerns with the Russians. They have to revitalise their earlier agreement on sharing intelligence for a joint strategy on terrorism. If India is concerned with state-sponsored terrorism from Pakistan, Russia is concerned with the backing that states are directly or indirectly giving to terror groups in West Asia and Central Asia. India will have to be more forthright in condemning states that on the pretext of regime change or local geopolitics are allowing the growth of terror groups in West Asia.

Russia and India have common positions and concerns in Afghanistan. Last week the Afghans, in a peace deal backed and welcomed by the U.S. and Pakistan, rehabilitated the mujahideen “butcher of Kabul” and India hater Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. This snubs the Indian and Russian policy of isolating all terrorists and instead has accommodated and compromised with who they wish to label ‘good Taliban’. This policy is an extension of using terrorists for strategic use. Indian and Russian anxieties on terrorism need to converge and bring about some positive outcome. India has its own military exercises with the U.S. and has signed logistics agreements which can eventually give the U.S. access to Indian naval bases. Is India willing to do the same with Russia? Given the growing U.S.-Russia hostility, has India reassured Russia that this access will not jeopardise Russian interests? If not, it should do so.

India needs to deepen its scientific and technological relations with Russia since a base for this already exists. Often agreements are signed amidst bilateral rhetoric and are not sufficiently followed up. The Russia-India investments in the oil and gas sector and exports to third countries need to be energised. Joint manufacturing needs to be planned. A continuous engagement and follow-up plan need to be made.

India should use the interdependency and pressure-compromise strategies to leverage its interest to isolate Pakistan. A former U.S. Secretary of State had called Pakistan an international migraine, but then moved on to use it as the U.S. front line in Afghanistan and West Asia. No matter what India gives the U.S., this equation will not change. The U.S. will always have a dual approach to India and Pakistan, because it needs both. Russia, on the other hand, will not. But India has to actively ensure that and not take this strategic partnership for granted.

India needs to move on in the international system. In some ways it has, but in other ways it is moving backwards. Its foreign policy is only an extension of its domestic politics. India has to fix its domestic issues to further social cohesion and make special efforts to build bridges between communities. India’s domestic politics has to move towards inclusive democracy, non-militarism, rights and the rule of law. This will give it an edge in the international system. Any dilution would damage it deeply. Indian foreign policy should focus on its strengths of working with the global South, opposing militarist interventions, building norms and depending on multilateralism. India cannot be in denial of its history even as it moves forward.

Rescuing the Syrian truce deal

Over the past five and a half years, every international effort to bring violence in Syria to an end has collapsed. The UN has largely been a spectator since what began as civil strife spiralled into a deadly war between the regime and a group of rebel groups supported by outside powers. In this time, half a million people have been killed. The Geneva I and II peace plans did not even take off. Russia and the U.S. had earlier agreed to cease hostilities, but the agreement did not hold. When Moscow and Washington, which support the regime and the rebels, respectively, decided to go ahead with talks despite the initial setback and finally came up with a proper ceasefire agreement earlier this month, hopes were high about bringing at least some temporary relief to Syrians. But within a week of reaching the agreement, the Syrian regime and the rebels are back fighting each other, erasing the advances made through months of negotiations. It is immaterial to ask who has violated the terms of the agreement, given the hostility and the contradictory accounts of who did what. The Syrians blame the U.S. for violating the terms first with airstrikes, killing more than 60 Syrian soldiers in Jebel Tharda on September 17, a few days into the deal. The U.S. says the strike was a mistake. It, in turn, blames Russian jets for attacking a UN aid convoy in Aleppo a few days later, which Moscow denies. Amid the allegations and counter-allegations, the war drags on, creating more havoc, especially in Aleppo that has witnessed heavy regime bombardment and where 2.5 lakh people are believed to be trapped.

There are two key impediments to achieving truce. First, President Bashar al-Assad is now making advances in the battlefield. Recapturing Aleppo, once Syria’s largest city, has always been high on his agenda, and he may be less keen to compromise at a time when he is winning. But the problem is that while trying to recapture the city his forces might commit another massacre, which the world should not let happen. Being Mr. Assad’s greatest supporter, Russia has a moral responsibility to end the siege of Aleppo. But Russia has its own concerns. It wants the rebels to isolate the jihadists among themselves, particularly Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and has been asking the West to target such groups. Though the U.S. has said it is fighting all jihadist groups in Syria, it is now focussed only on the Islamic State, which is in retreat. The U.S. and Russia need to stay engaged in talks. The word truce may appear to be a cliché in today’s Syria, but an international ceasefire deal between the U.S. and Russia still seems to be the best option to turn around the Syrian situation.

The SAARC gambit

India’s decision to pull out of the SAARC summit in Islamabad this November, with Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh deciding to follow suit, effectively draws the curtain on what was increasingly becoming a farce. Since the previous Nepal summit, Pakistan has blocked all protocols to better link the region, while India has pursued a “SAARC minus Pakistan” plan to push through with agreements it is keen on. Meetings in the run-up to Islamabad have been overshadowed by ongoing India-Pakistan tensions for months now. Basic courtesies were set aside by both countries after the Pathankot attack. Islamabad dropped any plans to send a representative to India to formally extend an invitation to the summit, as is the custom. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was given a mixed welcome by his Pakistani hosts during the Home Ministers’ meeting in Islamabad in August, prompting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to cancel his visit for the subsequent SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting. Afghanistan and Bangladesh too had downgraded their participation in these meetings because of their anger with Pakistan on its continued support to terror groups in the respective countries. Uri proved to be the final straw, especially in view of Pakistan’s refusal to even issue a statement condemning the attack, galvanising India to reach out to other SAARC member-countries in an effort to “diplomatically isolate” Pakistan. But Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Nepal, the acting SAARC Chair, have kept out of the boycott.

The Modi government cannot claim much more than a pyrrhic victory for the SAARC process getting derailed in this manner. With one-fifth of the world’s population, South Asia is home to two-fifths of the world’s poor. It has abysmally low intra-regional trade. It was precisely to work around bilateral tensions in the subcontinent, especially between its two biggest members, and to make space for discussion on common issues such as trade, infrastructure, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, that SAARC was set up. The founding principle was that together South Asia had a better chance of fighting its shared ills, an idea that held the group together for decades in the face of intermittent regional tensions. Of course, this is not the first time that a SAARC summit has been postponed. But given the prevailing environment of deep mistrust and tension, it is unlikely that the summit will be rescheduled to take place in the near future. This is something that will cause serious damage to the multilateral process and raise even more questions about the future and relevance of SAARC.

Click Here to Read Full Article

Click Here to Join Online Coaching for IAS (Pre.) Exam

<< Go Back To Magazine Articles Main Page

Courtesy: Various News Paper