Islamabad: Pakistani authorities have a
tendency to "pass the buck" and exaggerate differences with
India over the sharing of river waters though mismanagement
within the country is resulting in the loss of 34 million acre
feet of water, the Foreign Minister said on Friday.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the remarks when he was
asked at a news conference whether Pakistan had taken up the
issue of India trying to block the flow of rivers by building
dams during a meeting yesterday between Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
Pakistan had taken up the issue during the meeting on
the sidelines of a SAARC summit in Bhutan but Pakistani
authorities have a "tendency to exaggerate" and "pass the
buck" in this regard, Qureshi said.
The average supply of water that reaches Pakistan is
104 million acre feet while the water that is consumed is 70
million acre feet, he pointed out.
"Where is the 34 million acre feet of water going? Is
India stealing that water from you? No, it is not. Please do
not fool yourselves and do not misguide the nation. We are
mismanaging that water," the foreign minister said.
Pakistan "must understand" actions made by India,
including the construction of dams and water projects, if they
comply with the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, he said.
Pakistan has to see if new structures being built in
the Indian side of Kashmir are "in accordance with the Indus
Waters Treaty or in violation of it", he added.
"We should examine the Indus Waters Treaty and its
annexures which are binding. If there are any violations, we
must take them up and will do it without any compromise as
water is a matter of life and death for us.
"Pakistan`s progress and economy (is) dependent on
water and there will be no compromise on it," he said.
Qureshi also hinted that the Foreign Office had not
received any information from the concerned ministry about
violations of the treaty by India for almost 20 years but did
not give details.
Differences over the sharing of river waters have
emerged as a major irritant in bilateral ties in recent years.
Pakistani politicians have accused India of trying to
turn the country into a desert by building a large number of
dams and power projects on rivers in Jammu and Kashmir.
India has denied the charges and said the flow in the
rivers has been affected by climate change and low rainfall.
Pak agrees to change in format for future talks
Pakistan agreed to a change in
the format for future talks with India in return for New
Delhi`s consent to resume broad-based engagement with it,
diplomatic sources said on Friday.
This process of give and take was behind the
breakthrough in yesterday`s meeting between Prime Minister
Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh
on the margins of the SAARC summit in Bhutan, the sources told
There were several indications during Foreign Minister
Shah Mahmood Qureshi`s news conference today that Pakistan was
amenable to accepting a format other than the composite
dialogue for future talks with India.
Asked if the format for dialogue between India and
Pakistan would be changed, Qureshi said there was "no
difficulty" over the nomenclature for talks to be held in
future as the two sides intended to discuss all outstanding
issues, including the Kashmir dispute, Siachen, Sir Creek,
sharing of river waters, trade and people-to-people contacts.
"If all issues are being discussed, call it
comprehensive dialogue or call it composite dialogue or call
it what you may. It is the spirit behind the dialogue that
counts. I can share with you that the spirit was right," he
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao too said
yesterday that nomenclatures were not important.
The sources said there would be greater focus in the
dialogue on terrorism, a key issue for India, while the
sharing of river waters, a major concern for Pakistan, is
expected to constitute a separate segment in future talks.
During today`s news conference, Qureshi said Pakistan
and India already had a "Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism" to
counter the menace though there is a need to see whether it
needs to be improved.
Qureshi also hinted that the adoption of a new format
for talks did not mean that the two countries would have to
start from scratch in addressing outstanding issues.
"All issues of concern to India and Pakistan that have
been discussed in the past will be discussed in the future in
the dialogue which is going to resume shortly," he said.
Following yesterday`s meeting between Singh and
Gilani, officials of both countries announced that the two
sides had agreed to resume the peace process that was stalled
in the wake of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks which were blamed on
the Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Taiba.
Officials of both sides also made no mention of the
resumption of the composite dialogue, which was launched in
This marked a shift in the positions of both
countries, the sources said.
Till recently, India had been insisting that talks
should focus on terrorism and the two sides should move
forward in phases after Pakistan took action against the
perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
On its part, Pakistan`s Foreign Office had been
maintaining that it would accept nothing short of the
full-fledged resumption of the composite dialogue, which India
had put on hold immediately after the Mumbai carnage.
The composite dialogue had consisted of eight segments
peace and security, including confidence-building measures,
Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage,
terrorism and drug trafficking, economic and commercial
cooperation and promotion of friendly exchanges.