India-Pakistan set to hold PIC discussion in Lahore
Commissioners of both India and Pakistan are set to participate in a meeting of Permanent Indus Commission, in Lahore later this month.
Pakistan has reportedly forwarded an invitation to India to resolve issues related to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), sources said.
The Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage goals of the Indus Waters Treaty,1960.
It comprises of the Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to the implementation of the treaty.
It has met 112 times since 1960. It is Pakistan's turn to host its next meeting and the Indian Commissioner has accepted his counterpart's invitation for a meeting that is likely to take place in the second half of March.
Mutually convenient dates and mutually agreeable agenda are being worked out directly by the commissioners themselves and the government has no role to play in this regard.
"No shift in the stand as government and Commission are different, including for purposes of commission meetings," said sources.
The development comes after relations between the two nuclear-armed nations plummeted following the Pathankot terror attack in January last year.
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.
Islamabad has argued that India was buying time to complete its two disputed water projects and then insisting that since the project was already complete, it could not be modified.
Pakistan has raised objection to the building of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric plants by India saying that it violates the provisions of the treaty.
Tensions increased over the water dispute when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan.
The World Bank had earlier asked both the countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements over the Indus Water Treaty Dispute 1960.
The World Bank had said that it was temporarily halting the appointment of a neutral expert as requested by India, and the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus Rivers system.
The treaty which was signed in 1960 by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan gives India control over the three eastern rivers of the Indus basin, the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej while Pakistan has the three western rivers, the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum.
As per the provisions in the treaty, India can use only 20 percent of the total water carried by the Indus River.
The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.
The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries. It also sets out a process for resolving so-called "questions", "differences" and "disputes" that may arise between the parties.