Pakistan, India vow to make 'endeavours to resolve water issues’

Islamabad urges New Delhi to share data of water flows as per provisions of IWT and conduct inspection tours, says FO

News Desk March 25, 2021

A day after the conclusion of the two-day talks of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) of Pakistan and India, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Thursday said that both sides agreed to make endeavours to resolve the issues, conduct tours of inspection and hold the next meeting of the commission in Pakistan at an early date.

The meeting was the first since August 2018, although it was supposed to take place in 2019. The official explanation said the annual meeting could not take place because of the Covid-19 pandemic but sources told The Express Tribune that it also had to do with the deepening tensions between the two neighbouring countries after India unilaterally revoked the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in August 2019.

The meeting of the PIC is being linked to the renewed push by the two sides to seek rapprochement. The joint statement issued after the talks indicated that the two sides tried to send a positive message.

Read more: ‘Cordial’ water talks: Pakistan, India agree on frequent meetings

"The 116th meeting of the India-Pakistan PIC was held in New Delhi from 23-24 March, 2021. Under the relevant provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), the meeting is held annually alternately in Pakistan and India," the MoFA statement said.

The Pakistan side was led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, it added.

It said that host of issues related to the IWT were discussed during the meeting. "Pakistan side reiterated its objections to the Indian projects including Pakal Dul, Lower Kulnai, Durbuk Shyok and Nimu Chilling."

MoFA said that Pakistan side also urged the Indian side to share data of water flows as per the provisions of the IWT following the practice in vogue since 1989. "Pakistan side emphasised the importance of early resolution of the outstanding issues in accordance with the provisions of the IWT."

Both sides agreed to make endeavours to resolve the issues, conduct tours of inspection and hold the next meeting of the commission in Pakistan at an early date, the statement further said.

Read more: Two-day water-sharing talks signal thaw in Pakistan, India ties

Tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries have been on the mend since Pakistan and India agreed to restore the 2003 ceasefire understanding on February 25.

Following the agreement between the director general military operations, the two countries also decided to lower rhetoric in order to create a better environment for further steps.

Both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa recently sounded conciliatory towards India. While PM Imran said India would have to take the first step, the army chief maintained that it was time to “bury the past and move forward”.

It is expected that the two countries will take gradual steps to normalise ties. The next possible move may include the restoration of diplomatic ties to the level of ambassadors.

Pakistan had expelled the Indian high commissioner while recalled its envoy from New Delhi after India abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019. Restoration of trade could also be another step.


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