India and Pakistan will hold talks over issues related two of India's hydroelectricity projects under Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) at the World Bank headquarters in Washington on Monday, a senior government official said.
Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh will lead the Indian delegation during the talks. The Indian team will comprise officials from ministries of external affairs and water resources. The official, who requested anonymity, said "as reported by a section of media in Pakistan", recently, Pakistan's Water and Power Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif was expected to lead the neighbouring country's delegation, which will comprise their ministry's secretary Naseem Khokhar.
The two countries last held talks over the two projects in March this year during the meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Pakistan. "The Washington meeting will be held as part of efforts the World Bank is making to find a way out to establish mechanism to resolve the issues raised by Pakistan over India's Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectricity projects," the official added.
The official said it was not clear now whether Asif will join the discussion after the Supreme Court in Pakistan disqualified Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on charges of corruption in connection with Panamagate. "But the talks are scheduled to happen," the official said. Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising concerns over the designs of the two hydroelectricity projects located in Jammu and Kashmir. It demanded that the World Bank, which is the mediator between the two countries under the 57-year-old water distribution pact, set up a court of arbitration to look into its concerns.
On the other hand, India asked for appointments of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were "technical" ones.
Following this, the international lender had in November 2016 initiated two simultaneous processes - for appointing neutral expert and establishment of court of arbitration - to look into technical differences between the two countries in connection with the project. The simultaneous processes, however, were halted after India objected to it. After that, representatives of the World Bank held talks with India and Pakistan to find a way out separately. "The next week's meeting is part of these efforts," the official added.