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Pakistan makes it clear that it will not accept any Modifications or Changes to Indus Water Treaty

Tensions over the water dispute increased late last month when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan

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Indo Pak border at Neelum Valley. All tributaries of Indus will affected by Indus Water Treaty. Wikimedia
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Islamabad, December 17, 2016: Fearing that India is buying time to complete two disputed water projects, Pakistan made it clear that it would not accept any modifications or changes to the Indus Water Treaty after New Delhi said on Friday it was ready to bilaterally resolve its differences with Islamabad over the pact’s implementation.

The treaty, signed in 1960, gives India control over the three eastern rivers of the Indus basin – the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej – while Pakistan has the three western rivers- the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum.

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The IWT also sets up a mechanism, the Permanent Indus Commission, which includes a commissioner from each country.

Talking to Dawn here on Friday, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi said: “Pakistan will not accept any modifications or changes to the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. Our position is based on the principles enshrined in the treaty. And the treaty must be honoured in…letter and spirit”.

Earlier, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vikas Swarup, told reporters in New Delhi that the resolution process required more time.

“India has always believed that the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty, which includes the redressal of the technical questions and differences, should be done bilaterally between India and Pakistan,” he said. “We believe that these consultations should be given adequate time.”

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India’s request for more time, however, alarmed Pakistan. Islamabad argued that India used the same strategy on previous occasions, completing a project during the dispute and then insisting that since the project was already complete, it could not be modified.

The current dispute revolves around the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric plants. India is building the plants on the Kishanganga and Chenab Rivers, which Pakistan says violate the IWT.

Tensions over the water dispute increased late last month when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan. International experts fear that the threat, if implemented, could lead to armed clashes between the two sides.

New Delhi sought the appointment of a “neutral expert” while Islamabad asked the World Bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration. The IWT recognises the World Bank as an arbitrator.

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Pakistanis argue that the designs of the two Indian projects violate both legal and technical provisions of the treaty. India, however, opposes Pakistan’s effort for setting up a court of arbitration.

The disagreement persuaded the World Bank to announce earlier this week that it was temporarily “pausing” its arbitration and it was doing so to protect the treaty. (IANS)

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Pakistan In U.S. Blacklist For Religious Freedom Violations

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah's Witnesses

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Pakistan, Religious Freedom
Members and supporters of the Muslim Student Organization (MSO) chant slogans during a protest after the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, in Islamabad, Pakistan. VOA

The United States said Tuesday it has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom, ramping up pressure over its treatment of minorities.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he had designated Pakistan among “countries of particular concern” in a congressionally mandated annual report, meaning the U.S. government is obliged to exert pressure to end freedom violations.

Pompeo a year earlier had placed Pakistan on a special watch list – a step short of the designation – in what had been seen as a U.S. tactic to press Islamabad into reforms.

Human rights advocates have long voiced worry about the treatment of minorities in Pakistan, including Shiites, Ahmadis and Christians.

Sikh, Religious Freedom
A Sikh pilgrim visits the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

But the timing of the full designation may be jarring as it comes after Pakistan moved to resolve its most high-profile case, with the Supreme Court in October releasing Asia Bibi – a Christian woman on death row for eight years for blasphemy.

The government recently charged a hardline cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, with terrorism and sedition after he led violent protests against Bibi’s acquittal.

“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression,” he said.

Nine countries remained for another year on the list of Countries of Particular Concern – China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

pakistan,Sikh, Religious Freedom
Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, center, arrives along with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, second left, brother Atal Yousafzai, left, and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit, March 31, 2018. VOA

The United States removed one country from the list – Uzbekistan– but kept it on the watch list.

Pompeo also put on the watch list Russia, adding another item of contention to the relationship between the two powers.

Also Read: The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

Russia has increasingly drawn concern in the United States over its treatment of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the heterodox Christian group known for proselytization.

Also on the watch list was the Comoros, the Indian Ocean archipelago that is almost exclusively Sunni Muslim. (VOA)