NEW DELHI: Despite the frost in bilateral relations, the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission between India and Pakistan began “cordially” in New Delhi on Thursday.The Indian side, comprising senior officials from foreign and water ministries, is led by Indus water commissioner PK Saxena, while the six-member Pakistani delegation is headed by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah.
The fact that all six major rivers of Pakistan, including its lifeline the Indus, have their headwaters in India has always worried Islamabad.
The Indus Waters Treaty gives control of the water flowing through the ‘eastern rivers’ of Beas, Sutlej and Ravi to India, while Pakistan has control over waters of the ‘western rivers’ of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
India cannot build large dams or irrigation projects which take out more than 20 per cent of the flow from these ‘western’ rivers for domestic use.
In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sparked consternation and outrage in Pakistan when he had warned that his government was considering a ‘review’ of the treaty following the terrorist attack on an Army camp in Uri. “Blood and water cannot flow together,” he had declared.
While the scheduled treaty talks were suspended in 2016, it was resumed last year and held in Islamabad.
Pakistan accuses India of violating the treaty with several projects like Kishanganga, Ratle, Pakul Dul and Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir. India asserts that none of them flout the treaty. A tripartite discussion in Washington with the World Bank on technical aspects of the treaty and India’s right to build hydel projects had ended inconclusively in September last year.