A bridge over troubled waters . . .
Earlier this week, representatives from India and Pakistan held the first meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in more than two years. PIC was created to manage the objectives of the Indus Waters Treaty, a water-distribution pact for the Indus River and its various tributaries. The treaty, signed by both countries in 1960, stipulates that all the water of the eastern rivers belongs to India, and all the waters of the western rivers to Pakistan. The treaty gives rights to India to create hydroelectric projects throughout both the eastern and western rivers while also stipulating that Pakistan may raise objections on the designs of projects in the western rivers specifically.
Talks end cordially . . .
This week’s meeting focused on Pakistan’s objections to two of India’s hydroelectric projects on the Chenab River in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. Pakistan is concerned these projects will reduce the river’s water flow, water needed for approximately 80 per cent of Pakistan’s irrigated agriculture. India insists that its project designs are in compliance with the treaty. While the talks did not resolve these issues, India and Pakistan’s Indus Commissioners did agree to meet more frequently in the future. India’s External Affairs Ministry released a statement saying that overall, the talks were “cordial.”
A sign of warming relations . . .
India and Pakistan have endured a long period of strained relations stretching back to the 1947 partition of India. Most recently, tensions increased after India removed the special status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region in 2019. But the India-Pakistan relationship has recently started to improve. In February, the two declared a ceasefire along the Line of Control, the de facto border between the two countries in Jammu and Kashmir. And earlier this month, it was announced that, for the first time in history, Indian armed forces would be allowed to travel to Pakistan for military exercises. Some suggest the recent warming in relations can be attributed to the United Arab Emirates, with the UAE rumoured to have been hosting talks between the two for months. The UAE has strong trade and diplomatic relations with both India and Pakistan, and fostering peace between them seems to be an attempt at strengthening the UAE’s political alliances in the region.
- Al Jazeera: India, Pakistan hold water-sharing talks amid thaw in frozen ties
- The Express Tribune: ‘Cordial’ water talks: Pakistan, India agree on frequent meetings
- The Indian Express: After two-year pause, Indus water talks take off between India, Pakistan