India and Pakistan have plunged into a diplomatic row over different versions of the outcome of the recently concluded two day talks between their commissioners for Indus Water and projects on the Indus basin in Lahore.
According to reports published by Dawn, water resource secretary Shamil Ahmad Khwaja reportedly focussed only his country’s inspection of Indian projects which he referred to as “a major breakthrough”.
He said, “The major breakthrough of the two-day talks held in Lahore is that India has agreed to get the projects’ sites visited by our experts. Therefore, our team comprising experts will visit the sites in India by the end of next month.”
“During the visit, our experts will minutely examine the sites, construction in the light of the provisions of (IWT) and the objections raised by Pakistan to the aforementioned projects being executed by India over the Chenab River,” he said.
However, the statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday , said, “ Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in Indus basin on both sides. Deliberations were also held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission for matters under the Treaty.”
The statement said, “Technical discussions were held on implementation of various hydroelectric projects including Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Lower Kalnai(48 MW) in Jammu & Kashmir. Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in Indus basin on both sides.”
Moreover, PTI reported from Islamabad quoting Pakistani sources saying that India rejected Pakistan’s objections on its two hydropower projects on the Chenab river, the 1,000MW Pakal Duldam and 48MW Lower Kalnal hydropower projects.
The source further said, “India has hinted at continuation of work on both the hydropower projects. Pakistan may approach the international forums defined in the Indus Waters Treaty over New Delhi’s refusal to accept the requests as narrated in the detailed objections.”
The 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission was held in Lahore on Wednesday and Thursday.The Indian delegation was led by PK Saxena, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters.
This was the first official engagement between the officials of the two countries after cricketer turned-politician Imran Khan became the prime minister on August 18.
In March this year, the officials of the two countries met in New Delhi in March during which both the sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
In May, India could not reach an agreement with Pakistan to address its concerns regarding the Indus Waters Treaty with India after two-days of talks in Washington which were held days after India inaugurated the Kishanganga hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir in May this year. Pakistan had protested claiming that the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.
Meanwhile, Dawn said in its editorial on Saturday, “It would have been better for both sides had they jointly briefed the media, or if that were not possible, issued a joint press release. Ending the talks without any public word is counterproductive as it creates an impression that runs contrary to the positive news emerging of an agreement for inspections.”