Blood and water cannot flow together,” is the latest sound bite from the Indian PM, referring to the next blow India will deliver to Pakistan. PM Modi chaired a meeting to review the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), and New Delhi is planning on withholding water from three of the five rivers that are controlled by Pakistan.

Battle cries aside, the six rivers that flow through the two countries must be shared, whether it pleases him or not. The statement on the Indus Water Treaty is meant to be considered a diplomatic warning, as Modi under international pressure takes the war discussion to the economic front. The abrogation of the decades old treaty cannot be taken lightly. They may not be able to stop the flow of water to Pakistan, considering such a measure would flood Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, but they can make it a seasonal nuisance.

Additionally, India can hardly afford to leverage the river agreement to tighten pressure on Pakistan as river Indus originates in none other than China, our strongest ally. China can decide to divert water, putting India at risk. China also holds control of the river Brahmaputra, which sustains large parts of India and Bangladesh, and hence such a provocation can backfire.

It is clear from these rash actions that India sees the likelihood of military warfare dwindling and hence is exploring other options.

The IWT was signed between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s president General Ayub Khan after World Bank-brokered negotiations that lasted almost a decade. India can use only 20 percent of the water of the Indus, which flows through it first, for irrigation, transport and power generation. The agreement also sets up the Permanent Indus Commission to adjudicate any future disputes arising over the allocation of waters. The Commission has survived three wars and provides an ongoing mechanism for conflict resolution through exchange of data and visits. Hopefully it can play its role in these times of heightened tensions and diffuse the situation before it spirals out of control, unless India wants to scrap another internationally recognised pact.