Think-tank proposes SCO, ECO level water sharing treaties

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DNA

ISLAMABAD:  Considering a number of disputes on trans-boundary rivers in South, Central and West Asia, it is needed that groupings like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) come up with regional water sharing accords.

This is proposed by the Eurasian Century Institute (ECI), an Islamabad based think-tank.

ECI notes that many of the member nations of SCO and ECO are involved in disputes over sharing of trans-boundary rivers, and bilateral arrangements like the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), despite being in place for over six decades have so far failed to resolve water conflicts among the parties.

ECI has been involved in consultation with experts from Pakistan, China, India, Afghanistan, and Central Asia and there seems to be this increasing realization among those having closer look at the water sharing issues that regional arrangements can open doors for better cooperation, ushering the region in improved management of shared water resources.

“The point is not to undermine the bilateral arrangements, treaties but to initiate the process for regional arrangements that enhance stakes and ensure that rights of the people are safeguarded,” maintains the think-tank.

For this purpose, ECI stresses, developing regional principles and policies, while learning from global best practices is need of the hour. Most of the countries in South, Central and West Asia that have some kind of dispute with a neighbor over a river are either the member of ECO, or SCO. Some are members of the both. So, these two groupings would be doing the people of their member states a huge favor if they are able to move ahead in this direction.

The Institute however does not pin much hope on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – the other regional grouping in this part of the world – in this connection citing the track record of SARRC, dotted with more failures than successes.