Pak team leaves for India for talks on water disputes

Islamabad: A three-member Pakistani delegation on Sunday left for India to inspect the Indian construction projects including dams sites on Chenab River. The delegation is being led by Pakistani Indus Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah, Joint Commissioner Usman Ghani and Engineer Mehmood Hayat. Since 2013, there have been seven rounds of talks between India and Pakistan to resolve the thorny water disputes. According to Pakistan, India has repeatedly violated the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed by both countries in 1960. Before departure, Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah said that the Indus Water Treaty does not prohibit construction of any dam, however objections could be raised over designs of dams. Responding to a question, he said that the two sides will exchange documents during the visit. He said India has allowed Pakistani delegation to inspect the dams sites after a gap of over four years. In March, 2018, 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in New Delhi where the two sides exchanged their views on Lower Kulnai, Pakal Dal and Retal Hydroelectric projects. It will be the first official engagement with India on water issues since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power in August last year. The delegation is scheduled to hold talks with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi and return Lahore on Feb 1. Under the treaty, rivers including Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were reserved for Pakistan, whereas Ravi, Beas and Sutlej Rivers were reserved for India. According to the treaty, India cannot divert the water flows of rivers reserved for Pakistan.