Pakistan welcomes re-initiation of talks with India

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ISLAMABAD, March 20 (APP): Pakistan on Monday welcomed
re-initiation of talks with India on water issues after hiatus of
two years, pledging to defend her rights with full zeal and
Addressing a press conference here, Minister for Water and
Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif said, “We will defend our rights with
full zeal and vigour.”
Both the countries on Monday initiated Commission level talks
on bilateral water issues in Islamabad.
“I am happy to announce that the process of bilateral talks
has been set in on the Indus Waters Treaty following efforts by
Pakistan,” the minister said.
The bilateral talks were halted in March 2015 at the time when
both the countries were on table to take up issues like Kishan Ganga
and Ratal power projects by India.
Secretary level talks on Ratal power project would be held
next month on April 11-13 in the United States under the aegis of
the World Bank, he remarked.
Pakistan opted for arbitration following the failure of
secretary level talks on both the issues held in India in
last July, he said.
Khawaja Asif said Pakistan had been urging for implementation
of the decision on the issue of construction of Kishan Ganga dam on
the Jehlum river. “Ratal power project is in the initial stages and
Pakistan had already expressed reservations on its design,” he added.
Pakistan had already taken up both the issues at the World Bank
level, he said.
During the process, he said Pakistan had always been
struggling to keep the talks process continue in the light of
Indus Basin Waters Treaty, but the other side was not inclined to
keep the ball rolling for the peaceful settlement of the issues.
“It is a happy augury that of late India has come back to the
dialogue table at the Commission level to re-launch the process of
peaceful talks. We welcome this decision of India, which has
despatched the Commission to Pakistan for holding two-day parleys.”
Pakistan, he said, had always been pleading that the Indus
Basin Waters Treaty was one of the few world level treaties that
provided forum to get resolution of water issues in a peaceful
manner. “Implementation and safeguard of this treaty is in the best
bilateral interest,” he observed.
The Indian Commission is being headed by P K Saxena while
Mirza Asif Beg is representing Pakistan.
He said the Commission would take up three proposed power
projects, including Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Maiyar. In addition
to this, in advance provision of data of flood, visits to
under-construction projects and dates for next meeting would also be
discussed in the two-day deliberationsk, he added.
Responding to a question, the minister said the Neelum Jhelum
power project would be completed in March, 2018.
To another question, he said lower canal and Ratle projects
were at initial stages while no progress had been made on the Wullar
Barrage so far.
He told a questioner that no speculations could be made about
the outcome of the talks.