Indian officials arrive in Pakistan to discuss Indus Waters Treaty

• A delegation of Indian officials arrived in Pakistan to hold talks on issues relating to the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries, the first bilateral engagement between the two countries since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office.

• Pakistan Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah and additional commissioner Sheraz Jamil received the nine-member Indian delegation led by Water Commissioner P K Saxena on arrival via the Attari-Wagah border crossing, one of the few such border points between India and Pakistan.

• Shah said talks between the two countries will be held on water issues on Wednesday and Thursday in Lahore.

• The talks are the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Khan became prime minister on 18 August. The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March during which both sides shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

• India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory. The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of rivers. However, there were disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.

• Shah said Pakistan raised objections on the 1,000 MW Pakal Dul and 48 MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab, and would like India to either modify the designs to make them compliant to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty or put the projects on hold until New Delhi satisfied Islamabad.

• The two sides will also finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.

• The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to project sites and critical river head works.

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