India, Pakistan talks fail to end deadlock on Indus water dispute
Washington: Two days of talks here between India and Pakistan amidst the current chill in bilateral ties failed to break the deadlock on the design of two hydro-electric power plants in Jammu and Kashmir.
The September 14-15 secretary-level talks under the auspices of the World Bank on the technical issues of the Kishenganga and Ratle hydro-electric power plants within the framework of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
The World Bank, which is also a signatory to the water sharing treaty between India and Pakistan, assured the two countries of its continued assistance in resolving the issues peacefully.
“While an agreement has not been reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the treaty provisions,” the bank said in a statement.
“Both countries and the World Bank appreciated the discussions and reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the treaty.
“The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the treaty, while continuing to assist the countries.”
The Indian side was led by union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh and Deepak Mittal, Joint Secretary in charge of the Pakistan desk in the External Affairs Ministry, as one its members.
The Pakistan team was led by Secretary, Water Resources Division Arif Ahmed Khan along with Secretary of Water and Power Yousuf Naseem Khokhar.
The water sharing agreement — seen as one of the most successful international treaties and having survived resurgent India-Pakistan conflict — was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between the two countries with the help of the World Bank.
The latest dispute arose over the construction of the 330-MW Kishenganga and 850-MW Ratle hydroelectric plants on the tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers in Jammu and Kashmir.
In a similar discussion in August, India was allowed to construct the power plants after talks on the technical issues over the Indus Waters Treaty concluded in a “spirit of goodwill and cooperation”.
Pakistan, however, alleged that India had violated the treaty by unrestricted use of the waters of the two western rivers, questioning if the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravened the agreement.
The fresh round of talks between India and Pakistan came even as New Delhi has been discouraging any engagement with Islamabad till it stops cross-border terrorism following terror attacks at an air base in Punjab’s Pathankot and a military camp in Jammu and Kashmir Uri border sector.