The Indus Water Commission dialogues between Pakistan and India have started in Lahore today, after India agreed to conduct Indus Water Treaty commission level dialogues.
While addressing press, Federal Minister for Power and Energy Khawaja Asif said that during current two-day dialogues, three ongoing projects would be discussed with India.
“Future dialogues will be arranged in USA from next month,” he said.
The minister further said that water dialogue has started after two years with efforts of current government. “This dialogue will benefit both states,” he said.
While talking about controversial Kishan Ganga Dam, Asif mentioned that World Bank has already given the verdict in favour of Pakistan.
“Issues of Kishan Ganga and other important issues were delayed in the past,” he added.
According the experts the construction of more dams by India, in Indian Held Kashmir, will further affect the inflow of water into Pakistani dams and rivers. Pakistan has time and again showed serious concerns over the design of the hydroelectricity projects being built by India in the Indus river basin saying it is the violation of the treaty brokered by the World Bank in 1960.
In September last Pakistan approached the World Bank amid Indian threat to revoke the 56-year-old treaty and requested for Arbitration Article IX of the IWT. Article IX deals with arbitration of disputes between both the countries concerning the interpretation or application of the treaty. Under the treaty, the World Bank has an important role in establishment of the Court of Arbitration.
The World Bank had earlier declared the formation of court and appointment of neutral expert, but ironically it announced a “pause” in both the separate processes initiated by Pakistan and India to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.
Media reports earlier suggested that India kept making last minute efforts to include Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in the discussion list for talks beginning today, but Pakistan flatly refused saying it has already waited too long for a bilateral solution.
“We will not hold any talks on both the controversial projects (Ratle and Kishanganga) because their case has already been referred to World Bank,” said an official of Indus Water Commissioner office of Pakistan.
India had suspended the annual PIC talks in Sept 2016 – ostensibly in wake of Uri attack in Occupied Kashmir. But these talks are mandatory under IWT, and if India fails to hold the talks till March 31, it shall be violating the treaty.
Some officials said the meeting was going to be held with the efforts of World Bank which brokered the treaty between the two countries in 1960.
Speaking to Press Trust of India (PTI) earlier, before the departure of Indian team to Pakistan, an Indian govt official said Delhi is “always open” to discuss and resolve concerns Pakistan have over its projects under Indus Waters Treaty bilaterally.
The official, however, reiterated that there will be “no compromise” on India exploiting its due rights under the 57-year-old pact. However, the agenda for the meeting, taking place nearly six months after India decided to suspend talks on the pact, was yet to be finalised.
Asked whether the delay in reaching consensus over agenda for the meeting will leave little time to resolve issues, the official replied in negative. “We always go into such meetings with optimistic mindset. In the past too, there had been delays in finalising agenda for the meeting, yet solutions were achieved,” the official added.