A view of the Indus river in the Indian Himalaya in late autumn. Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Islamabad: A 10-member Indian delegation will be visiting Islamabad for a three-day meeting of the Indus Commission starting March 1, Pakistani officials said.

The Indian delegation will enter Pakistan via the Wagah land border crossing on February 28 and return through the same route on March 4.

Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Mohammed Mehar Ali Shah will be leading the Pakistani side during the three-day talks. Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters Pradeep Kumar Saxena will lead the Indian delegation which includes water and power experts.

The Pakistan side will discuss a series of issues including Islamabad’s concerns over the design and construction of Indian hydroelectric projects and upstream dams which Pakistani officials say violate the World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus water. However, Indian officials say that the constriction of new projects is in line with the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

During the meeting in Islamabad, the Indian side will explain its position to Pakistan and address Pakistan’s apprehensions “amicably through continued bilateral discussions in the spirit of the treaty”, Pradeep Kumar Saxena told Indian media.

The agenda for the meeting is currently being finalised by the two sides but the talks are likely to be focused on Pakistan’s objections to Indian hydroelectric projects including Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) in Chenab basin and few small hydroelectric projects in Ladakh, according to local media reports.

The treaty requires the two commissioners to meet at least once a year, alternately in Pakistan and India. The last meeting of the water commission was held in March 2021 in New Delhi.

Indus Waters Treaty between Pakistan and India, brokered by the World Bank and signed in 1960, is considered one of the most successful international treaties that survived wars and continued conflicts. The treaty safeguards the water rights of the two countries gives control over the waters of the three western flowing rivers, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, to Pakistan and allocates the waters from three eastern rivers, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, to India.