Introduction

7-9 JUNE 2010 at Bentota Sri Lanka 

Leading opinion makers from India and Pakistan, meeting at Bentota (Sri Lanka) from 7-9 June, welcomed the resumption of the dialogue between the political leaderships of India and Pakistan. They emphasized the urgent need to build trust between the two governments and move the dialogue forward. The participants hoped that the forthcoming meeting of the foreign ministers in Islamabad will contribute to this objective.

The fourth Chaophraya dialogue focused on three specific issues: the functioning of the Indus Waters Treaty; combating terrorism; and prospects in Afghanistan.

The participants recommended the following for the consideration of the two governments.

Effective Management Of The Indus Waters

  • Water should not become a divisive issue between India and Pakistan in the future. It should, on the contrary, become the basis for strengthened bilateral cooperation.
  • Despite the many problems in the relationship between India and Pakistan, water is one area where the two countries had found accommodation through the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. The challenge for the two governments is to ensure that cooperation in this area is not derailed by misperceptions and misinterpretations.
  • The IWT has withstood the test of time. Both countries must continue to adhere to it, in letter and spirit. The IWT has detailed provisions for sharing of data, consultation over existing and new engineering works, and resolution of differences with a clearly laid out dispute resolution mechanism. In the light of new technological developments and past experience, the two countries could, however, consider introducing fresh measures to ensure greater transparency and a quicker resolution of differences/disputes.
  • The two countries must also consider ways of harnessing the waters of the Indus basin jointly for a more optimal use of the resources, given new technology, better practices, greater scarcity, and lessons learnt from the past within the framework of the IWT. Article VII of the Treaty on “Future Cooperation” leaves open the possibility of newer avenues of cooperation without needing to renegotiate the Treaty.

Combating Terrorism

  • Terrorism is a common enemy and the comprehensive defeat of terrorism should guide the policies of the governments of India and Pakistan. Pakistan is today facing an existential threat from terrorist organizations, while the memory of various terrorist attacks still affects public opinion in India.
  • The activities of LET/JUD are of particular concern to India, and were highlighted by Indian participants. Participants from Pakistan pointed out that there is no lack of political will in the fight against terrorism and is building its capability to eliminate this menace.

Working For A Secure And Sucessful Afghanistan

  • A stable, prosperous, sovereign, inclusive and independent Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbourhood, is in the interest of India and Pakistan. Both countries should work for this goal and hold talks to allay each others apprehensions. They should not view Afghanistan in zero-sum terms.
  • A stable Afghanistan offers huge opportunities for both countries in terms of energy, trade and as a “gateway” to central Asia. In this context, trilateral India-Pakistan-Afghanistan economic cooperation should be explored.
  • Both countries should consider a joint development fund for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and become partners in the future of the country.