Indo-Pak talks on dam fail

Associated Press

Islamabad, January 7:

Pakistan and India failed to reach agreement during the final round of talks yesterday aimed at resolving their dispute over a dam India is building in its portion of disputed Kashmir, Pakistani officials said. An official statement about the outcome was expected to be issued today in New Delhi, where the meeting was held. “The gulf in the differing perceptions and interpretations could not be bridged,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said from Islamabad after yesterday’s negotiations.

“The most desirable course for India now is to suspend work on the dam,” Khan. There was no immediate reaction from India. Indian and Pakistani officials had come together in New Delhi to try to settle the dispute over Baglihar hydroelectric dam being built on the Chenab River in India’s Jammu-Kashmir state.

Both countries claim all of Kashmir, a Himalayan region divided between them. The inconclusive talks came amid efforts by both nuclear-armed neighbour countries to improve their relations, which have been bitter for decades. They’ve fought two wars over Kashmir since their independence from Britain in 1947. Top foreign ministry officials from both countries met last month in Islamabad for talks on Kashmir, peace and security, and nuclear confidence-building.

Pakistan says the dam was being built in violation of a 1960 World Bank-brokered accord — the Indus Water Treaty — which regulates water sharing between Pakistan and India. Pakistan fears the dam, when built, will cut off water to downstream farmers in its Punjab province.