Backdoor diplomacy: Thaw in Pakistan, India ties as ‘Indus water officials to meet next week’

ISLAMABAD: Following the successful backdoor diplomacy, the Indus Water Commissioners of Pakistan and India agreed to meet on March 23 and 24 in New Delhi after a two-year hiatus, diplomatic sources told The Express Tribune on Monday.

Indus Water Commissioner Syed Muhammad Mehr Ali Shah and Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri will represent Pakistan, they added.

It will be the 116th meeting of the Pakistan-India Indus Water Commissioners. The last meeting was held in Lahore two years ago.

The meeting could not be held for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, tensions between the two neighbouring countries and other factors.

This will also be the first meeting between the two commissioners after the BJP-led Modi government had in August 2019 revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution that gave Indian Administered Jammu and Kashmir territory a special status.

The historic Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) 1960 was signed by both countries but India has been violating the treaty in the cases of Kishanganga, Ratle Hydro Electric Power Projects and other projects. Pakistan has raised the issue with the World Bank and at other global forums.

The development comes weeks after Pakistan and India announced that they had agreed to observe a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors.

The announcement was made simultaneously by both Islamabad and New Delhi after a telephonic conversation between senior military officials of the two countries.

The rare joint statement came against the backdrop of worsening relations between the two countries since the Pulwama incident in February 2019.

The thaw is seen as a major development after years of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours and being attributed to quiet diplomacy between Islamabad and New Delhi.

Observers believe that the Indian government’s willingness to agree to a ceasefire may be linked to its tense standoff with China for months.

Although India and China recently disengaged from Pangong Lake in the Ladakh region, tensions still persist between the two countries.

It is believed that India by seeking a reduction in the tension along the LoC wants to concentrate on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. (Express tribune)

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