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March 30, 2020

COVID-19 pandemic: Pak-India PCIW-level talks in New Delhi cancelled

National

March 30, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The two-day meeting of Permanent Commission of Indus Water (PCIW) between Pakistan and India earlier scheduled on March 30-31 in New Delhi has been cancelled on account of coronavirus (COVID-19) spread.

Pakistan’s Commissioner Syed Meir Ali Shah confirmed the development saying, “While considering the request of ICIW under Article VIII (10) of the Indus Water Treaty, the annual meeting of the permanent Indus commission has been postponed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. It now will be held when the situation improves.”

He further said that the meeting had to take place up to March 31, 2020 to fulfill the mandatory requirement of at least one meeting within the period of April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Agenda was being finalised between the two commissioners through correspondence but meanwhile due to COVID-19 the meeting got deferred.

However, the official sources said that eight meetings of Permanent Indus Commission have been held since 2014 when Modi government started ruling. It is pertinent to mention that after Modi came into power, announced to suspend the treaty unilaterally and then asked Indian authorities to harm Pakistan’s interests at the maximum being within the treaty.

“Though no country could suspend Indus Water Treaty, but India suspended the PCIW level talks for considerable period and till now only eight meetings are held so far.”

However, under Article VIII (5) the meetings (annual and special) of the Permanent Indus Commission comprising Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water and Indian Commissioner for Indus Water, are held alternatively in Pakistan and India before June 1, every year in order to finalise the annual reports of the commission for the preceding year ending on March 31.

The Article VIII (5) states, “The Commission shall meet regularly at least once a year, alternatively in India and Pakistan. This regular annual meeting shall be held in November or in such other month as may be agreed upon between the commissioners. The Commission shall also meet when requested by either commissioner.”

Indus Water Commission deals with the implementation of the Indus Water Treaty 1960 signed between India and Pakistan on the sharing of the water of the Indus Rivers system. The two commissioners from Pakistan and India together form the Permanent Indus Commission. Under the provisions of the treaty, the water of three eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) have been allocated to India for her exclusive use, whereas, the water of three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) have been allocated to Pakistan. As per the provision of the Indus Water Treaty “Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water (PCIW) is the part of the Permanent Indus Commission, which is a bilateral commission consisting of officials from India and Pakistan, created to implement and manage the goals and objectives and outlines of the Indus Water Treaty. The commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates between the two countries.”

The major functions of the commission are to establish and maintain a cooperative arrangement for the implementation of the treaty and to promote cooperation between the parties in the development of the water of the Rivers.

Under the treaty, the commission will meet regularly (at least once a year) to review implementation of the treaty. The commission works to make effort to settle any question arising between both the countries, to undertake tours of inspection of the rivers to ascertain facts, exchange of daily gauge and discharge data of the rivers and supply of advance flood information.