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India: Crucial Water Treaty With Pakistan Needs Mutual Trust

Even before the latest attack, the Indus water treaty was a source of friction between the two countries, with Pakistan saying the construction of dams and barrages by India deprives it of water, and New Delhi saying they are being built within the scope of the treaty

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A man sits on a boundary wall near the Indus river in Gilgit. VOA
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New Delhi, 26 Sept, 2016: With tensions between India and Pakistan running high over an attack on an Indian air base, New Delhi has alluded to the possibility of revisiting a crucial water agreement with Pakistan, but a high-ranking U.N. official cautioned against getting caught up in “water-war rhetoric.”

Under the 1960 treaty, Pakistan has the right to use water from three Himalayan rivers in the west that flow from the Indian side, while India has access to three rivers in the east. The western rivers – Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – are an important source of irrigation and drinking water in Pakistan.

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Amid calls for India to scrap the arrangement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said, “For such a treaty to work, it is important that there must be mutual trust and mutual cooperation between both the sides. It can’t be a one-sided affair.”

The Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers in Pakistan. VOA
The Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers in Pakistan. VOA

Hours after the comment to reporters, U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson pointed out that the Indus water treaty has survived two wars between the rivals.

Speaking at an event on “water as a source of peace” on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he said water represents a source of cooperation, a source of growth and a source of mutual positive dependence.

Analysts do not expect India to disturb the treaty, but see the Foreign Ministry comment as a message that New Delhi is weighing all options as it considers how to deal with the latest attack.

The assault, the worst in nearly two decades on an army facility in Kashmir, left 18 Indian soldiers dead and has put pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to retaliate against Islamabad in some way.

New Delhi has accused the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group of mounting the assault. Islamabad has denied any involvement.

While India appears to have backed off any military escalation, officials have said they are considering a range of measures, including economic and regional isolation.

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For the time being, New Delhi is gathering diplomatic support to put pressure on Pakistan. “We hope that increasingly the international community will see the validity of ensuring that Pakistan is made to stop its state sponsorship of terrorism,” Swarup said.

Even before the latest attack, the Indus water treaty was a source of friction between the two countries, with Pakistan saying the construction of dams and barrages by India deprives it of water, and New Delhi saying they are being built within the scope of the treaty. (VOA)

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PM Narendra Modi: Government bringing Stringent Consumer Protection Law

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Prime Minister Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a speech. IANS

New Delhi, October 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the government was in the process of enacting stringent legislation aimed at protecting consumers along with setting up a Consumer Protection Authority (CPA).

“Consumers’ protection is this government’s priority. We are in the process to bring a new law on consumer protection keeping in mind the need of the country and business practices here,” Modi said at an International Conference on Consumer Protection for East, South and South-East Asian Countries.

“We are in the process of forming a Consumer Protection Authority, which will have executive powers, for immediate redressal.”

The rules were being streamlined to solve consumer problems in less time and at less cost, he added.

“The stress is being given on consumer empowerment. Strict provisions are being contemplated against misleading advertisements,” Modi said.

He said India was among the few countries which had enacted a law a year after the UN adopted guidelines on consumer protection in 1986.

The Prime Minister also said the prices of commodities were set to go down and consumer protection for their interest effects due to the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Due to the GST, the competition among companies was going to increase. So prices will go down. It will help consumers from lower middle class and poor sections,” Modi said.

“Earlier, transportation by trucks would take five days but it has come down to just three three days now as checkposts on borders have vanished after the GST. It means transportation cost has gone down. This is going to be transferred to consumers,”

Taking a dig at those opposed to the GST, he said: “Some people may be taking advantage of the lack of awareness. However, the benefits will be transferred (to consumers) in days to come.”

Talking about the conference, Modi said: “It shows how seriously we take the needs of our citizens and how we strive hard to solve their problems”.

“It is the first conference in the region, where everyone is trying in their own ways to save the interest of consumers. However, we have to keep in mind that the world is going towards a single market,” Modi said.(IANS)

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