Asia - Pacific

Pakistan team off to New Delhi for 2-day talks on water

Pakistan commissioner for Indus waters, Indian side to resume talks after 2-year hiatus on 6 shared rivers

Aamir Latif   | 22.03.2021
Pakistan team off to New Delhi for 2-day talks on water

KARACHI, Pakistan 

Pakistan and India are set to resume stalled talks over a lingering water dispute from Tuesday amid heightened tensions between the two arch-rivals, mainly on Kashmir.

An eight-member Pakistani delegation headed by Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Meher Ali Shah departed for New Delhi on Monday to hold talks with the Indian side led by P.K. Saxena under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, after a gap of over two years, according to a spokesman for Pakistan's Water Ministry.

During the two-day talks, Islamabad is likely to raise objections to four power projects on the Chenab River, one of the six rivers jointly shared by the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

"We stand our stance with regard to four contentious Indian hydroelectric projects including Pakal Dul and Ratle power project,” Shah had said last week.

The last round of talks was held in Pakistan's northeastern Lahore city in 2018 and ended with no progress over the long-running dispute.

Under the Indus Water Treaty, the two commissions should meet each year alternately in Pakistan and India.

A ministry official on the condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency that the hiatus was caused due to New Delhi's unilateral scrapping of the longstanding special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Under the agreement, the waters of the eastern rivers – the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi – have been allocated to India, while Pakistan has been given control over the three western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab.

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

The two South Asian nations have fought three wars in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir – since they were partitioned in 1947.

India is also locked in a water dispute with China on Beijing’s construction of dams and proposed diversion of the Brahmaputra River, which originates in Tibet and provides a third of India’s needs for irrigation.

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