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Indus water talks between India, Pakistan enter final day on positive note

New Delhi: The two-day 118th Permanent Indus Commission meeting between India and Pakistan on Tuesday entered its final round with both sides showing positive signs.

The meeting, which is held annually under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) 1960, began on Monday with a six-member Pakistani delegation, including a woman, visiting India to participate in the event. The Indus talks have survived the freeze in ties as both countries see it as mandatory under the IWT.

The Pakistani delegation includes Syed Muhammed, Mehar Ali shah, Sahibzad Khan, Habib Ullah Bodla, Saman Muneeb and Khalid Mahmood.

India's six-member delegation is headed by AK Pal, the new Indus Commissioner of India.

The meeting comes within three months of the last such meeting held in Islamabad. The 117th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held from March 1-3 in Islamabad. The Indian team was led by PK Saxena, the then Indus Commissioner for India.

As per the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) 1960 -- between India and Pakistan over sharing of the waters of the six rivers of the Indus basin -- both the countries are to have Indus Commissioners, and the Permanent Indus Commission is to meet at least once every year, alternatively in India and Pakistan. Of the six rivers in the Indus Basin, India has complete rights over three eastern rivers -- Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, while Pakistan has rights over the western rivers -- Chenab, Jhelum and Indus.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, under the provisions of the treaty, the two sides are required to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The last meeting, held on March 23-24, 2021 in New Delhi, saw discussions on the exchange of hydrological and flood data.

In March, India and Pakistan had reiterated their commitment to implement the Indus Waters Treaty in its true spirit and expressed the hope that the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission would be held at an early date in India.

Both countries don't see the Indus talks as a precursor to a more substantive engagement between them. The two countries last had diplomatic talks in December 2015, and while they did manage to announce a resumption of dialogue then, the process could never really take off because of the Pathankot attack.

The two countries have been exploring options for restarting dialogue since the new government took charge in Pakistan, but Islamabad has been insisting that India first give a "concession" on the J&K issue. (ANI)

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