India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), to be held in Lahore in March 2017. The last round of the PIC was held in July 2016.
This development came after two months of diplomatic negotiations, with World Bank officials playing mediator in encouraging Pakistan to extend the invitation and for India to accept.
- It signals a major shift in India’s position on talks with Pakistan on IWT as it had announced suspending talks after the Uri terror attacks in September 2016.
- This decision was taken by meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary and senior PMO officials.
- Decision taken in the meeting: Utilise water from Indus River under India’s share to fullest. It also suspended talks on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), the dispute redressal mechanism until terrorism stops. It decided to build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) to exploit full potential.
- In November 2016, India also rejected World Bank’s decision to constitute a Court of Arbitration to look into complaints from Pakistan over India’s construction of Kishenganga and Ratle river water projects. India had clearly mentioned that WB’s decision was biased in Pakistan’s favour.
About Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)
IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). It deals with sharing of water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries. It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960. As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers —Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. Under it, a Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates and solves disputes arising over water sharing between the two countries. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. The treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990. It is most successful water treaty in world.