ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and India have agreed to make ‘endeavours’ to resolve water issues by conducting inspection tours, as Islamabad reiterated its objections to New Delhi’s five controversial projects.
In a statement on Thursday, the Foreign Office said the 116th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in New Delhi from 23-24 March, 2021.
It stated that host of issues related to the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) were discussed during the meeting.
“Pakistan side reiterated its objections to the Indian projects including Pakal Dul, Lower Kulnai, Durbuk Shyok and Nimu Chilling,” it stated, adding that Pakistan side also urged the Indian side to share data of flood flows as per the provisions of the IWT following the practice in vogue since 1989.
It added that Pakistan side emphasised the importance of early resolution of the outstanding issues in accordance with the provisions of the IWT.
Under the relevant provisions of the IWT, the meeting is held annually alternately in Pakistan and India. The Pakistan side was led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, while his Indian counterpart Pardeep Kumar Saxena led his country’s delegation in the talks.
Earlier, the two sides had met in Lahore in 2018 for the 115th meeting, but with no progress over the long-running dispute.
In February 2019, Pakistani experts headed by the commissioner for Indus waters had inspected four hydropower projects at Chenab basin in India, including Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai, 850MW Ratlay, and 900MW Baglihar dams.
The construction work on Pakal Dul dam, which was earlier stopped, had resumed at that time, despite Pakistan’s reservations.
The meeting between the two countries could not be held last year, apparently, due to tension over the Indian illegal and unilateral actions in occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the latest contacts between the two countries – first, at the hotline between the two DG MOs on February 25 to ease tension on the Line of Control, and the second, between the two waters commissioners – are being seen as the latest steps towards mending ties.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had recently called for moving forward by “burying the past”.
“We feel that it is time to bury the past and move forward. But for resumption of peace process or meaningful dialogue, our neighbour will have to create conducive environment, particularly in Indian occupied Kashmir,” General Bajwa said, while addressing the participants of “Islamabad Security Dialogue” on March 18, 2021.
This was followed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Pakistan Day on March 23rd, extending his greetings to the people of Pakistan.
“As a neighbouring country, India desires cordially relations with the people of Pakistan. For this, an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility is imperative,” Modi stated in the message to Prime Minister Khan, in which he also extended his ‘best wishes’ for dealing with Covid-19.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021