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India, Pakistan will hold talks on water sharing after over 2 years

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The Indian delegation will be led by KP Saxena (Representative)

New Delhi:

India and Pakistan will hold the annual meeting of the Hindus Standing Committee in the national capital starting tomorrow. The two-day annual meeting on river water sharing between the two countries – governed by the 1960 Indus Water Treaty – is taking place after a gap of more than two years. This comes a month after India and Pakistan issued a rare joint statement on maintaining peace along the line of control – the de-facto border – and other sectors.

Under the treaty, officials from both countries meet at least once a year. The last such meeting was held in August 2018. In 2019, the meeting was canceled due to the Pulwama terrorist attack in which over 40 Indian soldiers had died while on duty. Last year, it could not take place as India wanted a virtual meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic, while Pakistan insisted on a physical meeting on the Attari-Wagah border.

The meeting is being seen as an important step towards merging bilateral relations between neighbors, which have been effectively severed after the Pulwama terrorist attack and an air battle that results decades later.

This is the first meeting of the Hindu Commission since the Central government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. It had also divided the two states of the Union – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Pakistan had opposed the move. New Delhi had called the decisions India’s internal affairs.

India’s planned electricity projects in Ladakh are among several unresolved issues expected to be discussed at the meeting. Pakistan has raised objections against the projects.

The Indian delegation will be led by KP Saxena, which will be joined by its advisers from the Central Water Commission, the Central Electricity Authority and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.

The Pakistani delegation will be led by Hindu Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Saxena said, “India is committed to the full exercise of its rights under the Treaty and believes in amicable settlement of issues through discussion.”

In February this year, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMO) of the two countries spoke to each other on the phone and reviewed the situation across the LOC and other sectors.

“Both sides agreed on strict adherence to all agreements, understandings and ceasefire along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight on 24/25 February,” the joint statement said.

With input from PTI

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