Home Indus Water Treaty (1960) Go Back

After the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, an understanding on the sharing of water of Indus River between the two countries became necessary to facilitate the development of water resources of this basin. After prolonged talks between the two Governments, the Indus Water Treaty was signed in September According to this Treaty, waters of the three western rivers (the Jhelum, the Chenab, and the Indus itself) were allocated to Pakistan, and those of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej) were allocated to India. Certain restrictions about water utilization were placed on India which is the upper riparian country. The highlights of the Treaty are: 


  • India has not been allowed to build storages on the rivers where water has been allocated to Pakistan.

  • Restrictions have also been imposed on the extension of irrigation development in India. Less significant restrictions have been placed on Pakistan, being the lower riparian.

  • The Treaty contains provisions regarding the exchange of data on project operation, extent of irrigated agriculture, etc.

  • The Treaty provides for certain institutional arrangements. A permanent Indus Commission consisting of a Commissioner each for India and for Pakistan has been set up and there are periodical meetings and exchanges of visits between the two sides.

  • Detailed guidelines were included in the Treaty for conflict-resolution. The Indus Commission is the first step for conflict resolution. If an agreement cannot be reached at the Commission level, the dispute is to be referred to the two governments. If the governments too fail to reach an agreement, the Treaty provides an arbitration mechanism.


The Indus Water Treaty is a successful instance of conflict-resolution. It has been working reasonably well despite the strained political relationship between India and Pakistan. Importantly, it continued to be honoured even during wars between the two countries. Undoubtedly differences do arise from time to time, but these usually get resolved within the framework of the Treaty. Minor differences are settled within the Commission, and major disputes go to the two Governments.