India softens stance on Indus Water Treaty, agrees to meeting

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018


The Permanent Indus Commission looks at everyday operations and implementation of the Indus Water Treaty.

The Permanent Indus Commission will be meeting end of this month in Lahore to discuss the Indus Water Treaty even as the government had decided to suspend the commissioners meeting in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the army base at Uri last September.

“It is Pakistan's turn to host its next meeting and the Indian Commissioner has accepted his counterpart's invitation for the meeting to take place in the second half of March,” a top official said requesting anonymity.

The Permanent Indus Commission is a bipartisan body that looks at everyday operation and implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty. It is mandated to meet at least once a year for stock taking purposes. The meetings are held alternately in India and Pakistan.

The official also said that the government and commission are different.

“The commission meeting is not talks between governments, as is mentioned earlier. Government and commission are different. The commission is not concerned with political aspect and only deals with technical matters,” the official said.

The Ministries of External Affairs (MEA) and Water Resources, which deal with the political aspect of it, are not concerned with when commission meets and what it discusses, according to sources.

Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission assumes huge significance as it demonstrates softening of India’s stance. Last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for suspending the regular meetings of the commission post the alleged role of Pakistani based militant outfits in carrying out the terror attack in Uri.

He had categorically stated: “Blood and water cannot flow together.”

Modi had also said at that time Pakistan cannot be allowed to enjoy the benefits of the treaty and that the meeting of the commission can only take place when the atmosphere “free of terror”.

The commission, which comprises of Indus Commissioners from both sides, basically discusses technical matters related to implementation of the treaty. Since the inception of the treaty in 1960, it has met 112 times.

Mutually convenient dates and mutually agreeable agenda are worked out directly by the commissioners themselves and the government has no role in this regard. Regular meetings of the Commission deal with technical matters concerned with implementation of the treaty, sources said.

Published on March 03, 2017

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