By Aamir Latif
The two-day water talks between longtime South Asian rivals-India and Pakistan concluded in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Tuesday, with New Delhi apparently acknowledging Islamabad’s objections over controversial projects on Chenab River.
Speaking to the media following the conclusion of talks, Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig said the Indian side has agreed to halt progress and review the design of its 120-megawatt Miyar project, which according to Islamabad violates the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.
India will share the new design with Islamabad before starting work on that project, Baig said.
“We also presented our objections over the designs of Pakul Dal [1,000 megawatts] and Lower Kalnai [48 megawatts] projects,” he said, adding that further talks on the controversial projects were likely to be held after three months in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
Two other controversial hydropower projects -- Kishanganga and Ratle -- over which Pakistan was seeking International Court of Arbitration through the World Bank were not discussed. Negotiations on these two projects would be held next month in the United States, he added.
New Delhi had suspended negotiations over the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, which grants control of the eastern Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers to India while the western Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers to Pakistan, following an attack by militants that killed 19 Indian soldiers last year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to scrap the Indus Water Treaty after the September 2016 attack; Pakistan then warned that any such move would be a "declaration of war".
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of violating the World Bank-brokered treaty by building dams on the western rivers, which all flow through Indian territory before reaching the Pakistani side. India complains Pakistan benefits from a greater volume of water under the agreement.