A Rare Development Vis-à-Vis Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)

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The history of Pakistan-India ties has rarely witnessed cooperation and remained conflictual but the Indus Waters Treaty is often portrayed as a classical example of cooperation between India and Pakistan as it has survived four wars and also the recent standoff between the two nuclear powers. Under the relevant provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), the meeting is held annually alternately in Pakistan and India. The meeting wasn’t held in the last two years as the relations between Pakistan and India deteriorated after India’s move to scrap the special status of the occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the recent meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission is a rare development that is being interpreted as a thaw in the relations between the two countries. The 116th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in New Delhi from 23-24 March 2021. The Pakistan side was led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters. A host of issues related to the IWT were discussed during the meeting. Pakistan’s side reiterated its objections to the Indian projects including Pakal Dul, Lower Kulnai, Durbuk Shyok, and Nimu Chilling. Pakistan side also urged the Indian side to share data of water flows as per the provisions of the IWT following the practice in vogue since 1989. Pakistan side emphasized the importance of early resolution of the outstanding issues in accordance with the provisions of the IWT. Both sides agreed to make endeavours to resolve the issues, conduct tours of inspection and hold the next meeting of the Commission in Pakistan at an early date.

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