Delhi returns to the table after water war threats

Published: March 16, 2017
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Pakistan and India are set to resume stalled water-sharing talks later this month under a 1960 treaty that the Indian prime minister had threatened to scrap blaming Islamabad of promoting terrorism in the region.

Late last year, Narendra Modi had threatened to scrap the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on Pakistan after accusing the country of being behind a deadly militant attack on a military base in Uri, in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.

The annual meeting of the permanent Indus Waters Commission will be held in Lahore on March 20 and 21, the BBC Urdu reported on Thursday. The meeting originally scheduled for September last year had been postponed after New Delhi pulled out of talks while blaming Pakistan for the Uri assault.

Delegations from Pakistan and India, led by their respective Indus waters commissioners, would attend the meeting. The IWT makes it mandatory for the two countries to hold talks at least once a year. However, it could be held anytime on the request of the either side.

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Officials in the office of India’s Indus Waters Commissioner PK Saxena confirmed that “the commissioner is busy preparing for talks scheduled for a few days later in Lahore”. A staffer at Saxena’s office said, “You should talk to water and power secretary Amarjeet Singh to get the official version on the issue.” However, Singh did not take any questions when contacted.

Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commissioner Asif Baig Mirza, while confirming the forthcoming meeting to the BBC, said the last meeting had been held between the two countries in May 2015.

The March meeting is important because as it recognises that the IWT is intact despite aggressive statements by the Indian prime minister. Pakistan has raised objections over the construction of the Kishanganga (300MW) and Ratle hydro projects (850MW).

It called upon the World Bank to constitute a court of arbitration to adjudicate on the issues raised by Pakistan against India’s ongoing construction of the two projects. Under the IWT, it is the responsibility of the World Bank to play its role without further delay.

Meanwhile Indian authorities said that New Delhi has expedited work on six hydropower projects in Occupied Kashmir that will cost more than $15 billion. A senior official of the Indian ministry of power, Pardap Kumar Pujari, told Reuters news agency that the projects were not purely meant for producing electricity.

Pakistan urges WB to stop India from building dams

He said they are also connected to important issues of defence and border management. He said money is allocated only after all these concerns have been taken into account.

Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner Asif Baig said he would ask his Indian counterpart for details of the projects during the talks.

Reuters quoted Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria as saying, “It seems that India has realised the importance of the Indus Waters Treaty and, therefore, she has decided to come back to the table of talks.”

Translated from Urdu by Arshad Shaheen

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Rahul
    Mar 17, 2017 - 12:08AM

    This is a good decision by India. We should keep talking while constructing. Pakistan should be given full opportunity to make, submit dossiers.Recommend

  • Alien1
    Mar 17, 2017 - 5:43AM

    Good move by india, keep the pakistanis confused. In the mean time build all the dams at the earliest. Recommend

  • SuperNeo
    Mar 17, 2017 - 7:54AM

    Funniest headline of the century !!!Recommend

  • Arif Mohammed
    Mar 17, 2017 - 9:00AM

    What are going to talk about ? When India will complete building dams and call us for the inaugural function ? Recommend

  • Sunil
    Mar 17, 2017 - 11:30AM

    What misleading headline !! India will do what it needs to do. Recommend

  • Gyan
    Mar 17, 2017 - 11:30AM

    This is usual meeting which happens frequently. Don’t mistake this as a compromise from Modi. You will most likely be invited to inaugural function of the Dams built on the Indian side. Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Mar 17, 2017 - 11:47AM

    India always keeps its international commitements and makes only rightful claims on all issues.Recommend

  • salman
    Mar 17, 2017 - 11:54AM

    India has right to use Indus water by 11% only as IWT so they can bring thousands of dams as per the wishes until they do not cross the red line of 11% usage. If so than Pakistan will retaliate strongly. For now Modi Govt and their ignorant media is just making noises like they will cross 11% marks while fact of the matter is, their construction is only restricted to 11% use which their Govt and experts know pretty well unlike their propagandist media and some Indian trolls commenting here and there. Recommend

  • rich
    Mar 17, 2017 - 12:06PM

    war threat? when where i am confused

    can someone clarify plsRecommend

  • Shahid
    Mar 17, 2017 - 12:13PM

    Talk. Discuss. Everything is resolvable without war. Recommend

  • Prada
    Mar 17, 2017 - 12:14PM

    That is not a threat. India is building massive run-of-the-river dams. We’ll only know after they are completed.Recommend

  • Pukubanger
    Mar 17, 2017 - 12:27PM

    Be happy with similar headlines and no water. “Goodwill” is the basis of IWT as written in the preamble. Since “goodwill” is missing, the treaty is null and void. Pakistan does have options, but it will not take them. Your lack of imagination and analytical skills are boons to our country. Recommend

  • SHJ
    Mar 17, 2017 - 2:51PM

    Wish you all the best Pakistan….Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Mar 17, 2017 - 3:27PM

    @salman:
    If so than Pakistan will retaliate strongly

    How? By sending daily dossiers to the UN?Recommend

  • ram
    Mar 18, 2017 - 7:59AM

    @salman:
    Tell us more about your so called retaliation.Recommend

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