April 23, 2017

India accepts Pak invite for Indus dialogue

05 March 2017, 01:05 | Clarence Schmidt

Indus Waters Treaty has remained a bone of contention between India and Pakistan

Indus Waters Treaty has remained a bone of contention between India and Pakistan

In response to an invitation forwarded by Pakistan for talks over the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), India is all set to participate in the meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PUC) scheduled to be held in Lahore later in March.

New Delhi insists that the PIC met 112 times in the past and its meetings can not be seen as parleys between the governments of India and Pakistan, because the commissioners are independently setting the agenda of the meeting and finalising the dates.

Pakistan has strongly established that it will not accept any changes to the IWT after India had said that it is ready to engage in further consultations with Islamabad on the matter of resolving current differences over the Kishenganga and Ralte projects.

Largely considered one of the greatest success stories of water diplomacy, the 1960 World Bank-mediated Indus Waters Treaty faced a significant threat last September in the wake of a terrorist attack on an army camp in Uri when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi resorted to its unprecedented review. The ongoing overtures from across the border could be well understood in the light of India's domestic political narrative since Modi administration appears to return to its previous stance on befriending Pakistan now that the Uttar Pradesh elections have entered their last phase.

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Islamabad has argued that India was buying time to complete its two disputed water projects and then insisting that since the project was already complete, it could not be modified.

Echoing similar sentiments, another defence expert Sunil Deshpande said India has realized that it should utilize the assigned amount of water of the Indus River and must take advantage of the liberty which the treaty has provided.

It guarantees an unrestricted control to Pakistan of three western rivers - Chenab, Jhelum and the Indus, which flow through Jammu and Kashmir. According to Pakistan, this move by India violates the treaty. The hope with announcing the pause was for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time.

The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful worldwide treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict. The function of the commission is to maintain and exchange data and co-operation between the two countries.

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