India, Pak reiterate commitment to resolve water-sharing issues

India and Pakistan on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to resolve issues related to the sharing of waters of cross-border rivers through discussions under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 against the backdrop of strained ties between the two sides.

The 118th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), comprising the Indus commissioners of India and Pakistan, was held in New Delhi during May 30-31. The Indus Waters Treaty, which was brokered by the World Bank, is one of the most durable agreements between the two countries and has weathered several ups and downs in bilateral relations.

The PIC “appreciated the commitment of the two sides to interact frequently and resolve issues through bilateral discussions under the Indus Water Treaty”, according to the external affairs ministry. It said the meeting was held in a “cordial manner”.

A statement issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry said a wide range of water-related issues were discussed, including the advance sharing of flood information and the programme of tours and inspections.

“Pakistan also highlighted its objections on India’s hydro-electric projects on the western rivers. Response to Pakistan’s objections on Indian projects, including Pakal Dul, was also sought,” the Pakistani statement said.

The Indian side was “urged to communicate advance flood-flow information as per the provisions of the Treaty and the practice in vogue since 1989 until 2018”, the statement added.

According to the Pakistan statement, the Indian side said it will arrange tours and inspections after the next flood season. The Indian side also said Pakistan’s outstanding objections will be discussed at the next meeting as India is still in the process of examining details, the statement said.

The PIC’s annual report for the year ending on March 31, 2022, was finalised and signed. The two sides agreed to hold the PIC’s next meeting in Pakistan on mutually convenient dates.

The Indian delegation was led by AK Pal, the Indian commissioner for Indus waters, and the Pakistan delegation was headed by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, the Pakistani commissioner.

Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, the meeting is held alternatively in Pakistan and India annually.

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