Let’s respect Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan tells India

‘Things will move in positive direction, Pakistan on IWT talks’

BK Monitoring Desk/Srinagar
March 21, 2017 TOP STORIES 307 Views
Let’s respect Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan tells India

Pakistan on Monday asked India to respect the Indus Waters Treaty as it is in the interest of both countries, Pakistan’s Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif said on Monday.
A 10-member Indian delegation led by Indian Indus Water Commissioner P.P. Saxena arrived on Sunday for talks, two years after water experts from the two sides met in May 2015, reported Dawn.
The Pakistani team is led by Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Beg.
The two-day talks would focus on the designs, disputed by Pakistan, of the three controversial water projects being built on the Chenab river.
Asif said that the Indus Waters Treaty provides amicable solution to serious water issues between Pakistan and India.
He said that Secretary level talks on Ratle hyderoelectric plant will begin on 12th of next month in Washington between the two countries, reportd Radio Pakistan.
“Things will move in the positive direction as a result of meeting between Permanent Indus Commissioners of Pakistan and India. Outstanding problems relating to Indus Basin will be discussed during the two day meeting,” Asif was quoted as saying.
Both sides signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960, brokered by the World Bank, to share the vast water resources from the Indus River system, which supplies water to both countries.
The treaty requires annual meetings but none have been held since May 2015 because of tense relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.
Asif said the meeting will discuss the design aspects of Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar hydroelectric plants and flood data supply by India.
“The dialogue relating to Indus Waters Treaty was suspended in 2015 and now taking place almost after two years break. Pakistan has welcomed the readiness of India for talks at Indus Water Commissioners level,” he said.
He further said Pakistan is pressing for implementation of arbitration court’s decision on Kishanganga.
Asif said delays had been witnessed in the past in the handling of the Kishanganga project.
“When we (Pakistan) went to the court of arbitration, our position was not as strong as it could have been if we had approached the court in a timely manner.”
However, he added that Pakistan’s stand on the Ratle project was “very strong”.
“We are working to make changes to the design of the project that are in Pakistan’s interest and which are in accordance with the treaty.”
The two countries would not discuss the controversial Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects, a senior official earlier told Dawn.
The talks would conclude on Tuesday and the Indian delegation would leave for New Delhi the same day.
The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 and involves six rivers: the Beas, Ravi, Sultlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
Brokered by the World Bank, the first three rivers were given to India and the other three to Pakistan.
Pakistan, a country of 180 million people with a largely agriculture-based economy, fears the projects could severely deplete its water resources. Many worry the dispute could further escalate tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistan last September asked the World Bank to mediate, but the organization later backed out, forcing Pakistan and India to resume direct negotiations.

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