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The iwt and the scalar hydropolitics of the indus basin

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Harris Kuemmerle, Daanish Mustafa

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-248
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Water Law
Issue number5-6

King's Authors


The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is one of the most successful examples of a treaty of its kind ever devised and has provided the framework for ongoing cooperation and dialogue between two perennially antagonistic neighbours - India and Pakistan. That this has occurred - in spite of numerous violent and non-violent conflicts and enduring disputes - is particularly remarkable. However, the IWT is not without its limitations and this paper will argue that the IWT has not only locked the hydropolitics of the Indus Basin into a particular scalar concept, but that it has also served to produce (and reinforce) a scalar conceptualisation of transboundary hydropolitics which is exclusively centred upon interstate relations and is blind to any other scalar considerations. Using the example of Pakistani hydropolitics, this paper argues that the abilities of the IWT to ensure stability and security in the region going forward is severely restricted by its limited engagement with the deeply scalar aspects of hydropolitical security within the Indus River system. Addressing these scalar questions is an integral step in ensuring the long-term effectiveness and applicability of the IWT, and this paper suggests several recommendations for making the IWT more attentive to scalar variation and processes.

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