India, Pakistan May Meet for Indus Pact Talks to Thaw Frosty Ties
According to Article VIII of Treaty, Permanent Indus Commission must meet once a year; panel exchanges data between two countries
New Delhi: Hoping for rapprochement after a year of terror attacks and acrimony, India and Pakistan may convene a meeting of Permanent Indus Commission during the coming months after such talks under Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was suspended last September following terror strikes on the Army camp in Uri.
A meeting of the Commission of is on the cards to discuss the critical issue of water sharing, hinted persons familiar with the development. According to Article VIII of the Indus Waters Treaty, the Commission must meet once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The last meeting was held in July 2016. The Permanent Indus Commission is a bilateral commission consisting of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implementandmanagethegoalsandobjectives and outlines of the Indus Waters Treaty. The commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates between the two countries. The 1960 Indus Water Treaty was not abrogated even as the talks were suspended amid tensions following the Uri strikes. Earlier this month, a United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) report had blamed Pakistan for neglecting to resolve trans-border water issues and delayed presenting the cases of dispute with India to the Water Commission. But the report also claimed that the Indus Water Treaty has been an outstanding example of conflict resolution.
Meanwhile, Islamabad is pushing soft power diplomacy’ amid major changes in the Pak Foreign Office that may create grounds for Indo-Pak political engagement this year. A few Indian authors and commentators have been invited for the Lahore Literary Festival one of the premier cultural events of Pakistan being held between February 24 and 26. This comes close on the heels of Indian participation at the Karachi Literature Festival earlier this month. Improvement in the political atmosphere may even see the two PMs meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Kazakhstan on June 7-8. Both India and Pakistan are likely to be admitted as full members at this SCO Summit.
"But rapprochement will, however, depend over how the situation evolves in the next few months and prevailing atmosphere at that time. Delhi is maintaining a cautious approach," an official said. Forward movement in bilateral ties cannot be ruled out after state assembly elections in March, said experts.
However, the Modi government has made it clear that Pakistan requires to make a fundamental shift in its approach in sponsoring terror for ties to achieve concrete results.
This week’s terror attacks in the Kashmir Valley saw toughening of stand by the Indian Army. Speaking at the second edition of the Gateway of India Dialogue in Mumbai last Tuesday, foreign secretary S Jaishankar expressed India's frustration in dealing with Pakistan.
"We can live with a situation of little trade but we cannot live with a situation when the terror tap is turned on and off...the whole issue boils down to if Pakistan is willing to make a fundamental break with its past decades. But today this is not just India’s problem. In neighbourhood and elsewhere, lot of terror incidents in the world are traced back to Pakistan," Jaishankar's said.
SIGNS OF PEACE