Pakistan, India agree to resolve Indus water issues

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India have decided to resolve water issues related to the River Indus and to conduct tours of inspection.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Thursday, in the 116th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), held in New Delhi a host of issues related to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) were discussed.

Pakistan reiterated its objections to Indian projects, including Pakal Dul, Lower Kulnai, Durbuk Shyok, and Nimu Chilling, FO said in the statement.

The Pakistani delegation, headed by Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Meher Ali Shah, urged the Indian side to share data of flood flows as per the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty following the practice in vogue since 1989, FO added.

On Monday, An eight-member Pakistani delegation headed by Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Meher Ali Shah had departed for New Delhi to hold talks with the Indian side led by P. K. Saxena.

In 2018, the last round of talks was held in Lahore and ended with no progress over the long-running issue. Later, a Pakistani delegation was invited by India to inspect the sites of the hydroelectric projects being constructed by India on Pakistani rivers.

Pakistani officials had inspected four hydropower projects at Chenab basin in India, including Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai, 850MW Ratlay, and 900MW Baglihar dams in February 2019. Under the Indus Water Treaty, the two commissions should meet each year alternately in Pakistan and India.

The two longtime challengers share the water of six rivers under the Indus Water Treaty, a water-sharing agreement brokered by the World Bank in 1960.

Pakistan accuses India of constantly violating the treaty by building dams on the western rivers, whereas New Delhi thinks Islamabad controls more water than it as a result of the treaty.

The two-day meeting was viewed as an important development in the wake of recent statements by Pakistani leaders that asked India to take the first step by agreeing to resolve the Kashmir issue according to the wishes of its people.

Prime Minister Imran said India would have to make the first move to normalize ties with Pakistan. “We are trying, but India would have to take the first step and unless it does that we cannot move ahead,” the premier said while inaugurating the first edition of the Islamabad Security Dialogue.