The Indus Waters Treaty is considered a key example of India-Pakistan cooperation, but less has been said about its critical influence on state-making in both countries. Rivers Divided reveals the importance of the Indus Basin river system, and thus control over it, for Indian and Pakistani claims to sovereignty after South Asia's Partition in 1947. Securing water flows was a key aim for both governments. In 1960 the Indus Waters Treaty ostensibly settled the dispute, but in fact failed to address critical sources of tension. Examples include the role of water in the Kashmir conflict and the riverine geography of Punjab's militarized border zone. Despite the recent resurgence of disputes over water-sharing in South Asia, the historical causes and consequences of the region's flagship natural resources treaty remain little understood. Based on new research in South Asia, the United States and United Kingdom, this book places the Indus dispute, for the first time, in the context of decolonisation and Cold War-era development politics. It examines the discord at local, national and international levels, arguing that we can only explain its importance and longevity in light of India and Pakistan's state-building initiatives after independence.
Daniel Haines is Lecturer in Environmental History at the University of Bristol. He has previously taught at Royal Holloway, University of London and Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is the author of Building the Empire, Building the Nation: Development, Legitimacy and Hydro-Politics in Sind, 1919-1969.