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Dawn reveals India’s communication to defer experts visit

Amidst cancellation of bilateral foreign minister level talks at UNGA, India has asked Pakistan to postpone inspection of its two hydropower projects — 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal, due to some local issues.

A Pakistani official who requested for anonymity told the Dawn on Tuesday, “It seems to be an fallout of the recent tension emerging with the cancellation of the talks by India as other issues are normally affected in a larger context in such situations.”

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Last month, a nine-member Indian delegation led by commissioner for Indus waters Pradeep Kumar Saxena had visited Lahore and held two day talks with their Pakistani counterparts on Pakistan-India Permanent Commission for Indus Waters (PCIW) level.

During the talks, Pakistan’s commissioner for Indus waters Syed Mohammad Mehr Ali Shah raised the objections on the possible solutions to the problem,  on the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal projects.

Dawn reports that India had agreed to get the sites of its two projects inspected by Pakistani experts by the end of September and assured of taking up its objections and concerns seriously by resolving them amicably in the light of technical memorandums to be prepared and exchanged by the two sides at the next PCIW meeting to be held in New Delhi.

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However, the sources in Islamabad said that when the Pakistani authorities contacted their Indian counterparts in this regard recently, they, through a letter, confirmed Oct 7 to 11 for inspection of the projects by a three-member Pakistani team headed by the Indus water commissioner.

Pakistani daily reports that India also explained the reasons behind confirmation of Oct 7-11 schedule for the visit of Pakistani experts. They said that since the administration of the respective districts in Kashmir would be busy in holding the local bodies’ elections till Oct 5, the inspection tour of Pakistani experts would only be possible from Oct 7 to 11.

The Dawn quoted source further said, “But now the Indian authorities have postponed the scheduled inspection, stating it wouldn’t be possible due to holding of Punchayat elections in the state by the respective district administrations soon after the end of the local bodies’ elections. They didn’t give us new dates as they just stated to coordinate with Pakistani authorities soon,” he added.

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Confirming the development, Mehr Ali Shah, Pakistan’s commissioner for Indus waters has expressed disappointment over the postponement of the inspection of the projects by Pakistani experts.

He said, “So we request our counterparts to fulfil their commitment they had made during their visit to Lahore last month.”

The 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in Lahore from August 29-30, 2018.

According to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on August 31,  both the countries agreed to undertake the treaty mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in Indus basin on both sides.

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