The annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) comprising of Indus Commissioners of Pakistan and India was held on March 23-24. The Pakistan delegation was led by its Indus Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah. Addressing media today, Shah said that the meeting was a positive development between the two countries.
“We raised objections on powerhouses and conveyed our point of view. We emphasised on holding the next round as well. We discussed the agenda points in detail,” he said. “This is a positive development.”
The commissioner added that the Indian side heard Pakistan’s objections carefully. He said that under the Indus Water Treaty, the new year starts on April 1.
“We will invite India after April 1,” he said. “We have to give a site inspection to the Indian delegation, and the Indian side has agreed to visit Pakistan.”
Shah said that in the last meeting in 2018, Pakistan had raised technical objections to India’s project, and India has guaranteed that it will look into the objections.
He added that during the monsoon seasons in the past, India has provided Pakistan with flood data. He said that another meeting between the two sides will commence before July 1, where flood data will be shared.
“This impression is wrong that India’s hydroelectricity initiatives are being completed,” he added. “Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul are not being completed anytime soon.”
In the two-day meeting, discussions were held on the designs of two Indian projects, Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW). Pakistan sought information on the design of Indian hydropower projects being planned to be developed, and the Indian commission assured that the information will be provided under the provisions of the treaty.
The commissioner added that such meetings are a routine occurrence, and it is a cause of concern when they do not take place.
“India contacted us despite the tough times of COVID-19,” he said. “This too is a positive development.”
The meeting was held in a cordial manner, and both the commissioners reaffirmed their commitment to interact more frequently in an attempt to resolve the issues by bilateral discussions under the treaty. It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the commission in Pakistan on mutually convenient dates.
The five-member Pakistani delegation returned to Pakistan by walking through the Wagah border in Lahore.
Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, the two commissioners are required to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The meeting could not be held last year due to restrictions induced by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The meeting was held after a gap of nearly two-and-a-half-years. The last time the two sides met was in August 2018 in Lahore.