NEW DELHI: After being kept in abeyance for months, India will be participating in the meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission in Lahore, signaling breaking of ice in the relation between the two countries.
The meeting, though termed “usual” and apolitical by the government officials, has come months after Prime Minister Narenda Modi used some sharp words to indicate the government’s rethinking of the decades-old Indus Water Treaty as she said “blood and terror cannot flow together”.
“It comprises of Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to implementation of the Treaty. It is Pakistan’s turn to host its next meeting and the Indian Commissioner has accepted his counterpart’s invitation for the meeting to take place in the second half of March,” sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said adding that mutually convenient dates and mutually agreeable agenda are worked out directly by the Commissioners themselves and the Government has no role in this regard.
The commission, which has met 112 times since 1960, meets at least once every year alternately in India and Pakistan. “Regular meetings of the Commission deal with technical matters concerned with implementation of the Treaty and do not amount to ‘talks’ between the two governments,” the officials added.
Sources indicated that the World Bank- the guarantor of the treaty - played a role in nudging the two countries to the table.
The treaty inked in September 1960 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President General Ayub Khyan makes arrangement for the sharing of water of six rivers – Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The treaty has stood the test of the times and is an example of cooperative arrangement between the two countries even through the wars they have fought.
Dastardly attacks on Uri and Nagrota Army bases in 2016 hit the ties between the two countries and India expressed desire to utilise the full share of water allocated to it under the arrangement.