Pak, Indian water officials meet today

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The two-day meeting of the Indus Water Commission began Monday in Islamabad and officials said the discussions focused on designs of three controversial hydropower projects India plans to build on the Chenab River.

New Delhi also recently intensified work on proposed power station projects on rivers in Kashmir flowing into Pakistan, ignoring objections from Islamabad and warnings these projects will deprive the country of its due share of water. Despite various media statements causing speculations, Pakistan showed restraint and kept on making efforts for resumption of talks. "If the 12 projects get completed, they will store 4.7 million acre-feet of water squeezing the flow in the river reaching Pakistan".

Pakistan has firmly stated that it will not accept any alterations or changes to the IWT after India had said that it is ready to engage in further consultations with Islamabad on the matter of resolving current differences over the Kishenganga and Ralte projects under the treaty.

The minister said that flood data supplied by India and tour programs of inspection, as well as meetings by Pakistan and India to the sites of interest in the Indus Basin, are also on the agenda of the talks. Asif expressed hope that things will move in the positive direction as a result of the meeting between Permanent Indus Commissioners of Pakistan and India.

In September last Pakistan approached the World Bank amid Indian threat to revoke the 56-year-old treaty and requested for Arbitration Article IX of the IWT.

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India had suspended the annual PIC talks in Sept 2016 - ostensibly in wake of Uri attack in Occupied Kashmir.

Ahead of the visit, an Indian government source said that India is "always open" to discuss and resolve concerns Pakistan has over its projects under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) bilaterally.

The two-day meeting is taking place after nearly two years, with the last round held in May 2015. The IWT makes it mandatory for the two countries to hold talks at least once a year.

However, the agenda for the meeting, taking place almost six months after India made a decision to suspend talks on the pact in the wake of the Uri terror attack by Pakistan-based outfits, is yet to be finalised.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Monday welcomed re-initiation of talks with India on water issues after hiatus of two years, pledging to defend its rights with full zeal and vigour.

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