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Constructive India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty talks raise hopes of solution: report

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-08-2017 Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad: A constructive engagement between Pakistan and India during the recently held water talks in Washington has raised hopes for an amicable resolution of disputes under the Indus Waters Treaty, a media report here said on Thursday.

Dawn News quoted an international expert, who closely monitors the India-Pakistan water talks, as saying that this was the first time in many years that delegates “held a constructive discussion, instead of merely stating their official positions”.

The expert, who was named by the daily, said in previous talks “sometimes the two sides did not even exchange formal greetings”. They would “just read the statements they brought with them and leave, but this time it was different,” the expert said.

“A constructive engagement between Pakistan and India during the recently held water talks in Washington has raised hopes for an amicable resolution of this dispute,” the report said, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

India and Pakistan held secretary-level talks over the Indus Waters Treaty last week in Washington. In a fact sheet, the global lender has said Pakistan opposes the construction of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India in Jammu and Kashmir.

The World Bank, which hosted the talks at its headquarters, also noticed the positive change and mentioned it in a press release on 1 August, noting that the “meetings...were held in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation”, Dawn said.

In the lengthy fact sheet, the World Bank said Pakistan asked it to facilitate the setting up of a Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects. On the other hand, India had asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending that the concerns Pakistan raised were “technical” ones.

The international lender had in November 2016 initiated two simultaneous processes for appointing neutral expert and establishing of a court of arbitration to look into technical differences between the two countries in connection with the projects.

The simultaneous processes, however, were halted after India objected to it. After that, representatives of the World Bank held talks with India and Pakistan to find a way out separately. The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory. PTI

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