Water talks between Pakistan, India to commence tomorrow

Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Security Force personnel (obscured) lower the flags of the two countries during a daily flag lowering ceremony at the India-Pakistan joint border at Wagah, December 14, 2006. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed/Files

WASHINGTON: The delegations of Pakistan and India will meet in the United States on Thursday, to hold talks on the long-standing water dispute between the two countries.

The Pakistani delegation, headed by Water Resources Division Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan, has already arrived in Washington for the talks, which are to be held on September 14 and 15 under the supervision of the World Bank.

The delegation also includes Water and Power Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Indus Water High Commissioner to Pakistan Mirza Asif Baig and Water Joint Secretary Syed Mehar Ali Shah.

According to sources, Pakistan will reiterate its reservations over the design change in the 330 MW Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant being constructed at River Neelum by India, as well the 850 MW Ratli Hydroelectric Plant being constructed on Chenab River.

India and Pakistan currently disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the Indus Waters Treaty.

The Treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has rights of unrestricted use. Pakistan believes that the existing designs of the projects would not let adequate water to flow to its side.

India has also begun electricity projects including the 1,000 MW Pakal Dul, 120 MW Miyar and 48 MW Lower Kalnai projects on River Chenab’s tributaries.

The last secretary-level talks between the two countries were held in the last week of July in Washington.

Pakistan and India share the waters of Indus River Basin which has been one of the major sources of contention between the two countries since the partition of sub-continent.

Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising its objections over designs of the two under-constructed projects which India wants to complete as early as possible, to utilise its legitimate share of water under the Indus Waters Treaty.

The World Bank is not financing any of these projects.