Wednesday, Sep 24, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said that India was ready to receive a team from the Pakistani Indus Waters Commission to visit the controversial Baglihar hydroelectric project on the Chenab river in response to a request from Islamabad.
Both these points were conveyed by the Joint Secretary (Pakistan), Arun Singh, during a meeting with the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner, Munawar Saeed Bhatty, today. The meeting comes a day before the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf, addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York a forum he has used in previous years to attack India and its policy approaches.
Ministry sources said the decision was a result of the pressure to issue more visas after the Lahore-Delhi bus service resumed operation.
The Indian offer, however, does not meet the Pakistani proposal to restore staff strengths to 110 the figure before the December 13, 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament.
For some time now, Pakistani Ministers and officials have been saying that the pre-December 13, 2001 situation should be restored in "one go". India has been speaking of a step-by-step approach one that is linked to a forward movement on the all-crucial issue of cross-border terrorism.
The official release on a Pakistani team's visit to the Baglihar hydro-electric project on the Chenab said the visit "would be organised in October".
While India has made it clear that the Baglihar project is a run of the river scheme, the Pakistani side thinks differently. Exercising its prerogative as per the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan has asked for a visit by its Indus Water Commissioner.
Under the trilateral treaty signed by India, Pakistan and the World Bank, the waters of the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi are for the exclusive use of India while the waters of the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab are for exclusive use of Pakistan.
The Treaty holds that India shall not store any water nor construct any storage works on the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab rivers. The document also has a detailed procedure for grievance redress.
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