Indus Waters Treaty In Troubled Waters?

Water under the bridge

Ahead of the meeting, an Indian official source told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that India is "always open" to discussing and resolving concerns Pakistan has over its projects under the IWT bilaterally but reiterated that there will be "no compromise" on India exploiting its due rights under the 57-year-old pact.

India and Pakistan began discussions on the Indus Water Commission on Monday after 22 months amid optimism that the meeting may lead to resumption of the composite dialogue between the neighbours.

The Indian delegation is led by India's Indus Water Commissioner PK Saxena, and officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and technical experts.

The two countries held the Indus Water Commission last time in May, 2015 in New Delhi. He said outstanding problems relating to the Indus Basin would be discussed during the two-day meeting in Lahore.

Though India had offered to continue discussing the matters at the commission level, Pakistan could not afford delay in the resolution process as construction of the two projects was in progress.

The minister said that flood data supplied by India and tour programs of inspection, as well as meetings by Pakistan and India to the sites of interest in the Indus Basin, are also on the agenda of the talks.

Asif also said the controversial Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects over which Pakistan was seeking International Court of Arbitration through the World Bank would not be part of the talks.

Moreover, Pakistan will put forward a proposal of deploying a monitoring mechanism to assess the adverse affects of climate change on the water flows of Indus rivers system during the meeting.

The ministry spokesman said Pakistan appreciates India's decision to resume the regular talks and welcomes the Indian team to Islamabad.

The Minister for Water and Power hailed the start of talks between Pakistan and India on the contentious issue of water, saying it is good for bilateral relations. The World Bank had brokered the agreement and have a role in dispute resolution.

Pakistan contends that the projects were violating the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, which has come under strain during the current tension between the two sides. The IWT makes it mandatory for the two countries to hold talks at least once a year.