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India and Pakistan discuss bilateral hydropower projects

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India and Pakistan discuss bilateral hydropower projects

India
Photo: Amit Gupta/Reuters

For the first time since 2018, the Indus Commissioners of Pakistan and India will today meet in Attari on the Indo-Pakistan border to discuss water use issues between the two nations.

In accordance with the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, India and Pakistan must meet annually to discuss and give consent to each other’s construction projects on their shared rivers. After three years of deferments due to conflict arising between the two nations over the disputed Kashmir region, a recent uptick in hydropower projects on both sides has brought them back to the negotiating table. Commissioners will discuss a wide range of hydropower construction issues as well as violations of information-sharing aspects of the treaty.

These negotiations put New Delhi in a precarious balancing act between its desire to peacefully coexist with Islamabad while providing electricity for economic growth. All powers in the region are focusing extensively on hydropower projects, and New Delhi is loath to allow Chinese influence to encroach on its bilateral relations with Islamabad. Beijing’s entry into the power balance risks disrupting a precarious peace, but it may force both sides to finally address the core conflict over land and resources or risk them losing diplomatic autonomy to Chinese debt-trap diplomacy and great power rivalry.

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