Indus Water Commission talks to start in Islamabad today

The Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960 deals with water distribution and sharing of the six rivers of the Indus basin, of which the three eastern rivers Beas, Sutlej, Ravi were allocated to India and the three western rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus to Pakistan.

Indian and Pakistani officials will attend a two-day meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) starting here on Monday.

The Indus Water Comm-ission, which is mandated to meet at least once every year, alternately in Pakistan and India, comprises Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to the implementation of the IWT.

Prior to the meeting, Pakistan's Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif expressed the hope that both countries would respect the sanctity of the Indus Water Treaty.

The 113th Meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) is being held on March 20-21 after a gap of nearly two years - last such meeting took place in May 2015 in New Delhi.

Pakistan asked India to share the details of the designs of hydroelectric projects being built in Kashmir and provide access to Pakistani experts to verify that the Indus Water Treaty is not being violated in the process.

The World Bank had said that it was temporarily halting the appointment of a neutral expert as requested by India, and the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus Rivers system.

Pakistan had also approached the World Bank in August a year ago raising issues over Kishanganga and Ratle projects in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Disputed projects such as Miyar, Lower Kalnai, and Pakal Dul will be on the agenda of the 113th Indo-Pak Indus Water Commission conference. Pakistan had raised objections over the designs of three projects on Chenab it considered being built by India in violation of the 1960 IWT. But the World Bank announced late a year ago that Pakistan and India should hold bilateral talks. The World Bank had brokered the agreement and have a role in dispute resolution.

The two countries have been locked in military skirmishes across the Kashmir border in recent months, raising fears of another war between India and Pakistan. He said Pakistan believes that continuation of purposeful talks with honest efforts from both sides would lead to resolution of the matters at the Commission level, in accordance with the provisions of the IWT which has been a symbol of peaceful management of Trans-boundary water resources.

  • Elsie Buchanan