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India accepts Pakistan’s Invitation for talks on the Indus Waters Treaty in Pakistan

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Indus Basin, Wikimedia

New Delhi, March 3, 2017: The Indian Commissioner of the Permanent Indus Commission has accepted his Pakistani counterpart’s invitation for talks on the Indus Waters Treaty scheduled to be held in Pakistan in the second half of March.

However, given the extremely strained relations between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours, the Indian establishment here does not see this as official talks of any sort with Pakistan, it is reliably learnt.

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The Permanent Indus Commission is a bipartisan body entrusted with everyday implementation of the World Bank-brokered Indus Waters Treaty that was signed in 1960.

The Commission, which is mandated to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan, comprises Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to implementation of the Treaty. It has met 112 times since 1960.

It is learnt that mutually convenient dates and mutually agreeable agenda are being worked out directly by the Commissioners themselves and the Indian government has played no role in this regard.

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New Delhi sees this as just another regular meeting of the Commission to deal with technical matters concerned with implementation of the Treaty and which does not amount to talks between India and Pakistan.

The Treaty had come close to be jeopardised following the cross-border terror attack on September 18 last year on an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers.

Blaming the Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed for the attack, New Delhi said it would consider revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty, which has withstood three wars and is seen as one of the most successful international agreements.

According to the agreement, India has control over three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — all flowing from Punjab.

Pakistan, as per the treaty, controls the western rivers of the Indus — Chenab and Jhelum that flow from Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir has been demanding a review of the treaty as it robs the state of its rights to use the water of the rivers.

The current processes under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 MW) and Ratle (850 MW) hydroelectric power plants, being built by India on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers, respectively, to which Pakistan has raised objections.

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In November last year, India had pointed out the legal untenability of the World Bank launching two simultaneous processes for appointment of a neutral expert — requested by India — and establishment of a court of arbitration — requested by Pakistan — to adjudicate technical differences.

In December, the World Bank announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.

“We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim had said in a statement.

“This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the Treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time.”

This year, weeks after discussing the Indus Waters Treaty issue with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley here. (IANS)

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Pakistani Doctors Blame Quacks for Alarming Rise in HIV Cases: Report

Pakistan was considered a country of low HIV prevalence for long, but the disease is expanding at an alarming rate with about 20,000 new HIV cases reported in 2017 alone, according to the UN

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Nearly 40 individual HPV types linked to HIV infection. Pixabay

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has blamed quack doctors practicing without training and professional certification for an alarming rise in the number of HIV positive patients in the country, the media reported on Wednesday.

The doctors associated with the PMA said that the quacks, especially fake dentists, spread the virus by using instruments that were not sterilized, adding that despite free-of-cost availability of life-saving antiretroviral drugs at government hospitals, mortality ratio among patients carrying the virus was also increasing.

An alarming surge in HIV cases has been witnessed in five districts of Pakistan’s Punjab province, with 70 to 90 cases being reported monthly at the main government health facility in Faisalabad city, Dawn News reported.

Earlier this month, an international team of experts from the World Health Organization kicked off an investigation into the sudden HIV outbreak in Pakistan’s Sindh province after over 700 people were diagnosed with the virus in a matter of weeks, most of them were children.

HIV
School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)

Following the outbreak, authorities launched a crackdown on unqualified doctors as well as illegal blood banks and laboratories said to be involved in spreading the disease. At least 17 quack doctors were arrested and more than 70 clinics in Larkana district were shut down, according to Xinhua news agency.

According to the PMA, over 600,000 quacks are currently practicing in the country with more than 80,000 based in Punjab province alone.

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The association demanded the government to make all-out efforts to stop the menace of quackery in the country.

Pakistan was considered a country of low HIV prevalence for long, but the disease is expanding at an alarming rate with about 20,000 new HIV cases reported in 2017 alone, according to the UN. (IANS)