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

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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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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.