India, Pakistan to resume talks on Indus Water Treaty

August 28, 2018 - 9:53

TEHRAN - With the political transition in Islamabad and the new government in place, Pakistan and India are expected to resume their talks on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore on Wednesday.

It will be the first bilateral engagement between the two sides since the formation of Imran Khan led PTI government in Pakistan last week. Khan, in his victory speech, had vowed to resolve all outstanding issues with India.

India's Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena will hold discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Syed Mehr Ali Shah on Wednesday, Dawn quoted a government official as saying.

The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March during which both the sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

In a letter to Khan on the day he was sworn in as Pakistan's 22nd prime minister, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed India's resolve to build good neighbourly relations between the two countries. Khan also showed willingness to engage with India, and said Islamabad will walk two steps if India takes one step.

On July 30, Modi telephoned Khan to congratulate him on his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party's victory in the general elections and expressed hope that both countries will work to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.

The Pakistani side will reiterate its objections over two water storage and hydropower projects being built by India during the two-day talks scheduled for August 29-30, media reports said. Pakistan would raise its concerns over 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on the Chenab River.

The official quoted by Dawn said that the two sides would also finalize the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.

He said that the water commissioners of Pakistan and India were required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects' sites and critical river head works, but Pakistan had been facing a lot of problems in timely meetings and visits.

The two-day session is also expected to discuss ways and means for timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.

The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank and signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan's president Ayub Khan, administers how the water of the Indus River and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilized.

Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — had been allocated to India and the western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.

The talks over the long-standing logjam of Kashmir have not been announced yet. According to sources Khan led government is willing to discuss Kashmir but since India will go to polls next year Modi government would be war of opening the Kashmir chapter with Pakistan ahead of elections.

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