Muzammil Hussain, whose government agency is responsible for water in Pakistan, said on Monday that India was using its position upstream to wage “fifth-generation warfare” on the country.
“They try to isolate diplomatically, they try to strangulate economically, they’re trying to strangulate our water resources – and water automatically will have an impact on your economy, your agriculture and your irrigation,” said Hussain, chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
Hussain said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “threatened very clearly that he could stop water to Pakistan. He couldn’t care less of (for) the treaties.”
Pakistani authorities said the unexpected release of water into River Sutlej, which flows from India to Pakistan, was part of an attempt by New Delhi to flout a longstanding treaty between the two neighbors.
Pakistani emergency authorities have been preparing for minor flooding in several areas in Punjab province as a result of the unexpected rise in water flow.
Khurram Shahzed, director general of Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), said that “India did not communicate the release of water to Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, an Indian government official familiar with the matter, said the release of water was a “routine exercise” during the monsoon season.
However, the official added that strained ties between the two countries had affected information sharing. “It was goodwill on our part that we used to share that information … those days are gone.”
India and Pakistan have long argued over water resources.
A World Bank-mediated arrangement known as the Indus Water Treaty splits the Indus River and its tributaries between the countries.
In 2016, after suspending a meeting on the Indus Water Treaty, Modi told government officials that “blood and water cannot flow together.”
In February, India, which lies upstream, threatened to stop sharing excess water with Pakistan after a bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Kashmir that killed 40 Indian paramilitary police.
Relations between the neighbors have been deeply strained over India’s decision earlier this month to scrap the special status of its portion of Kashmir, which both countries claim.
India strips Kashmir of special autonomous statusThe Indian government has scrapped the special autonomy status for Kashmir after imposing lockdown on the disputed region.
Pakistan has reacted with fury, cutting transport and trade links and expelling India’s ambassador in retaliation.
Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947. Both countries claim all of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the territory.