Water is the most essential element of life and without water life is unimaginable on the globe. The gift of water has been earlier plenty to fulfill the human requirement but same is now fast depleting. Owing to the growing realization of this acute shortage of water that the world would encounter in days to come that some water experts have predicted that water will be the main cause of conflict among the nation-states in future.

Pakistan came into being on 14th of August 1947 and soon after its creation it was faced with the severe problem of water shortage. The British had laid an extensive network of canals and water head works in Punjab in the united India to irrigate lands and it was due to the connivance between Hindu leadership and Sir Radcliffe, Head of the infamous Boundary Commission, that the major head works of water went into the Indian control at the time of the Partition. India took advantage of this situation and in April 1948 withheld water from the head works flowing across its borders into Pakistan and thereby ringing alarm across the newly born country to take appropriate actions to ensure adequate supply of water. The action of India to stop water supply to Pakistan, therefore, forced the latter to start negotiations with India to restore the uninterrupted supply of water to Pakistan. Consequent upon successful negotiations, India agreed to restore the supply of water in return for payment by Pakistan.


Distribution of water resources between Pakistan and India has been one major area of discord since Partition. It is a matter of common knowledge that both states as well as international actors made efforts to resolve the dispute over water but to no avail. However, a serious attempt towards the resolution of water dispute was made in 1960 with the active support of World Bank and other global financial institutions and after extensive negotiations it resulted in water sharing agreement over trans-boundary rivers under “Indus Basin Water Treaty”. The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) succeeded in helping both the countries to overcome the water disputes for over three decades; however, for quite some time the issue of water has again come to fore with an unprecedented force when India, taking advantage of certain provisions of the Treaty, has started building reservoirs to the utter detriment of Pakistan.

This paper is an attempt to critically analyze the Indus Water Treaty, gauging as to what extent the Treaty safeguarded the interests of Pakistan and its lasting impacts on the dispute of water distribution between two neighbouring states besides suggesting certain measures for implementing the clauses of the Treaty fairly so that no side suffers.