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|November 5, 1998||
Tulbul drowns Indo-Pak talks
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Differences persisted over the Tulbul navigation project as India's Water Resources Secretary Z Hasan and his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Shahid Husain, sat down together in New Delhi on Thursday.
Hasan's team underscored that the talks should pick up from where the stalled discussion left off in 1992.
Pakistan, however, was of view that it should commence afresh.
While pointing out that the Pakistani delegation later indicated it was willing to pick up the dialogue, Hasan underlined that there had been no agreement on its status.
The Pakistani delegation said it would examine the records and try to find a solution.
Hasan said India had earlier clarified that the Tulbul project was for navigation and non-consumptive use. But the Pakistanis were steadfast in their stance that the Indian position would result in the storage of water, in violation of the Indus Water Treaty, 1960.
India emphasised that the Tulbul project would benefit the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and both India's and Pakistan's projects downstream in the lean season.
''Differences are still very much there and we are working to sort these out," Hasan told reporters. "It is a very complex issue.''
The non-convergence of views, it is understood, chiefly resulted from India's offer to increase the incremental flow of the project from 2,000 to 4,000 cubic feet per second.
Pakistan turned down the offer, arguing that storage of the Jhelum's water was not permitted in the treaty.
Asked by reporters what the real problem was, Hasan said, "The problem could be political."
An earlier joint press statement by the two sides had said the discussions were held in a "frank and constructive atmosphere". While reaffirming their continued commitment to the Indus treaty, both sides exchanged views and took note of previous discussions from October 1987 to August 1992.
The statement emphasised that the discussions would continue in the next round of dialogue.
Meanwhile, senior external affairs ministry officials told Rediff On The NeT that the current line of dialogue clearly indicates that the Nawaz Sharief government would like India to address small issues now. This step-by-step approach is perceived as a preliminary to confidence-building measures.
They said issues like the new bus service between Delhi and Lahore and Tulbul are being addressed to "lay the foundation to evolve a meaningful relationship".
Additional reportage by UNI
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