Indo-Pak officials hold talks

Officials from India and Pakistan met here as part of the annual meeting of the Permanent Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW) and the two sides are expected to discuss among other topics arrangements about flood flow information during the current season and finalise future programmes, meetings and inspections.
A 10-member Indian delegation, headed by Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters P K Saxena, which arrived here via Wagah border on Monday met the Pakistani team in the national capital.
Sources have confirmed that the discussions have begun and Pakistan’s objections are being discussed in a congenial atmosphere. The discussions will continue tomorrow.
The three-day meeting is being organised by the office of Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters under obligations of the Indus Water Treaty-1960.
India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the Washington-based World Bank being a signatory.
The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, there have been disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.
The Indian delegation’s visit was earlier scheduled for mid-January, but it was postponed at the request of India due to COVID-related restrictions. The meeting is taking place amid the chill in bilateral relations over the Kashmir issue.
The Indian delegation includes three female officers. This is the first time since the signing of the treaty that three female officers are part of the Indian delegation.
The delegation comprises Saxena’s advisors from the Central Water Commission, the Central Electricity Authority, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and the Ministry of External Affairs.
A Pakistani official said the participants are set to discuss arrangements regarding communication of advance information about flood flows during the current season, maintenance of free flow of water into Sutlej river and finalisation of future programmes, meetings and tours and inspections.
The participants, under the agenda items of the meeting, will also finalise and sign a record of the last PCIW meeting.
“There is no plan for any field visit/inspection by the Indian delegation members during their stay in Pakistan as they have come to participate in the meeting only,” the Pakistani official said.
Besides objections already under discussions over 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects, Pakistan has also expressed concern over the construction of 10 hydroelectric power projects – Durbuk Shyok, Nimu Chilling, Kiru, Tamasha, Kalaroos-II, Baltikulan Small, Kargil Hunderman, Phagla, Kulan Ramwari and Mandi.
“Therefore, all these projects have been made part of the PCIW meeting during which the Pakistani Indus water commission’s team, headed by Syed Muhammad Mehr Ali Shah, will reiterate its objections and seek reply/justification from the visiting Indian delegation,” explained the official.
“Moreover, both countries will also resume talks on Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai projects,” he added. (PTI)