India and Pakistan on Tuesday began the Indus water meet in New Delhi after a gap of more than two years. The annual dialogue which is held between Indus commissioners of the two countries under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was last held in August 2018. IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. A seven-member Pakistani delegation led by the country’s Indus Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah arrived to New Delhi on Monday for the annual meeting during which the Indus commissioners of the two countries will hold the annual dialogue on March 23-24. The Indian delegation will be led by PK Saxena who will be joined by his advisors from the Central Water Commission, the Central Electricity Authority and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation. The meet also comes less than a month after India and Pakistan agreed to “strict observation of all agreements, understanding and ceasefire along the Line of Control and all other sections.”
The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) warrants the two commissioners to meet at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. However, the last year’s meeting scheduled to be held New Delhi in March was cancelled, a first since the Treaty came into being, in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan will raise objections to the technical designs of India’s planned Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydroelectric plants. The talks are the latest in both nations’ tentative efforts to re-engage after a 2019 suicide bomb in Indian-administered Kashmir that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based attackers and India’s move later that year to strip the disputed region of its constitutional autonomy. Last month, India and Pakistan announced a rare agreement to stop firing along the bitterly-contested Kashmir border, which Bloomberg said was also the result of UAE-brokered talks. The Indus River, one of the world’s largest, and its tributaries feed 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated agriculture. At the water-sharing talks, both sides are expected to try and narrow differences over the hydro-projects.