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India to 'cut water to Pakistan' as tensions simmer over Kashmir

The Indus River runs through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir [Getty Images]

Date of publication: 22 February, 2019

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India plans to divert water from Pakistan as tensions continue to escalate after last Thursday's attack, the deadliest attack against Indian forces in Kashmir's history, killed at least 40 soldiers.
India has declared plans to cut the flow of water to Pakistan, as tensions continue to rise between the nuclear powers over violence in the region of Kashmir.

India's infrastructure minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced on Twitter on Thursday that the country had "decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan", Reuters reported.

Tensions between the two neighbours continue to escalate after last Thursday's attack in which a Kashmiri militant crashed an explosive-laden van into a paramilitary bus, killing at least 40 soldiers. It was the deadliest attack against Indian government-linked forces in Kashmir's history.

Gadkari added that India would divert water from eastern rivers to supply its people in Jammu, Kashmir and Punjab. Officials from his ministry said he was reiterating decisions already taken by Prime Minister Narenda Modi.

The distribution of water from the Indus River to India and Pakistan is regulated under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. In recent years, India has started irrigation plans and dam constructions, actions it says do not breach the treaty.

Pakistan, which relies on the Indus River for 80 percent of its irrigated agriculture, has opposed India's projects.

In a nationally televised address on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan will retaliate if Delhi attacks but that it is ready to help India investigate last week’s suicide bomb attack.

India accused Pakistan of involvement in the attack, which Pakistan has wholly refuted.

Pakistan appealed to the UN earlier this week to help deescalate the situation in Kashmir. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi alleged that "for domestic political reasons, India has deliberately ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric against Pakistan and created a tense environment".

The suicide bomb attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). India's army said it killed the mastermind behind the explosion on Tuesday after a prolonged gun battle that claimed seven lives.

Kashmir is the site of a decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan in which both nuclear-armed nations claim the region but control only parts. Guerilla groups have fought against Indian rule in the Indian administrated Kashmir for the past thirty years.

"Many here want either independence from India or the merger of territory with Pakistan," wrote Aamir Ali Bhat, a Kashmir-based journalist, in a piece for The New Arab.

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