India to attend Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty

In a move that could signal the beginning of a thaw in India-Pakistan relations after a year of bitter acrimony, India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to be held in Lahore in March. According to officials privy to the development, the move came after two months of diplomatic negotiations, with World Bank officials playing the mediator in encouraging Pakistan to extend an invitation and for India to accept it. The news closely follows the visit of World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva to New Delhi, where she met with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, weeks after her visit in January to Islamabad, where she met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to senior government officials at the time, the decision to suspend the talks was taken when Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with key officials, including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, to “review” the IWT.

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). It deals with sharing of water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries. It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960. As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers —Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. Under it, a Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates and solves disputes arising over water sharing between the two countries. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. The treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990. It is most successful water treaty in world.

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