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WASHINGTON: World Bank president Jim Yong Kim called Finance Minster Senator Ishaq Dar on Monday and discussed with him the minister’s request to help settle the Pakistan-India water dispute, official sources told Dawn.

The latest dispute concerns two hydroelectric power plants — Kishan­ganga and Ratle — that India is building on the Indus rivers system.

In his Dec 23 letter to Dr Kim, the finance minister said that delaying arbitration would seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the Indus Waters Treaty. The letter explained that Pakistan was not withdrawing its earlier request to the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration and since this process had already been “inordinately delayed,” Islamabad wanted the bank to appoint the chairman as soon as possible.

Pakistan believes that further delay would hurt its interests as India is working day and night to complete the two disputed projects. And once they are completed, it will be difficult to undo them.

Read: Revocation of Indus Treaty can be taken as an act of war: Aziz

The Indus Waters Treaty, signed in 1960, distributed the Indus basin rivers between the two countries, giving India control over the three eastern rivers — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej — while Pakistan has the three western rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum. The treaty empowers the World Bank to arbitrate any water dispute between India and Pakistan.

World Bank president contacts Dar

But last week, Dr Kim sent a letter to the finance ministers of India and Pakistan, informing them that he had decided to ‘pause’ the bank’s arbitration and urged the two neighbours to decide by the end of January how they wanted to settle this dispute.

Pakistan had asked the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration while India demanded the appointment of a neutral expert.

Dr Kim said he was ‘pausing’ arbitration to protect the Indus Waters Treaty, which has successfully resolved previous disputes between the two neighbours.

Tensions over the water dispute intensified in November when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to block the flow of water into Pakistan — a threat which, if implemented, could lead to armed clashes between the two nuclear states.

In the formal request sent to the bank, Pakistan argued that the Court of Arbitration could be formed at the request of either party, if the party concludes that the dispute is not likely to be resolved by negotiation or mediation.

The bank would also be obliged to establish the court if the aggrieved party concluded that the other government was unduly delaying the negotiations.

Pakistan informed the World Bank that it has already exhausted the option to engage India for resolving the dispute through bilateral talks and was now exercising the option to take its case to the Court of Arbitration.

Inter-governmental discussions to resolve the dispute had also failed, Pakistan said.

Pakistan informed the bank that its discussions with India over the Kishanganga project began over two decades ago. Two threshold disputes relating to the permissibility of drawdown flushing and diverting the Kishanganga/Neelum River were resolved in 2013. But disputes relating to the calculation of pondage (water reservoir), the placement of the power intakes, and the design and height of both the sediment outlets and spillways remained unresolved.

These disputes have been the subject of subsequent discussions between the parties since 2013.

India first disclosed its design for the Ratle project to Pakistan in 2012, and Pakistan promptly objected to the various aspects of the design discussed herein. As with Pakistan’s objections to the Kishanganga design, the parties have discussed these points of dispute at multiple meetings and in extensive correspondence without reaching a resolution.

Although there are differences in the designs for the two hydro-electric power projects owing to site-specific conditions, the two designs raise conceptually similar legal and technical questions under the Treaty.

Both present questions concerning the method for calculating the maximum pondage (water reservoir) and for determining the design and placement of the power intakes, sediment outlets, and spillways for passage of floods. Additionally, in the case of the Ratle project, the parties disagree about the permissible scale of freeboard.

Pakistan raised questions regarding these issues in at a meeting in March 2013, soon after the issuance of the partial award by the Kishanganga dispute court, which clarified relevant aspects of treaty interpretation and reiterated certain design and operational

Pakistan reminded the World Bank that the treaty requires the party instituting the proceedings to appoint two arbitrators at the time it makes a request to the other party. Within 30 days of the receipt of this request, the other party shall notify the names of the arbitrators appointed by it.

Pakistan fulfilled these obligations and held a series of meetings with India and only after the two parties (India and Pakistan) were unable to reach any agreement, it decided to seek arbitration.

Pakistan also submitted to the bank copies of a series of written communications with India over this dispute. Despite extensive written communications, in-person PIC meetings, and inter-governmental discussions, the parties have been unable to resolve the disputes, Pakistan added.

Pakistan informed the bank that India was taking advantage of the daily and all indications are that significant construction work has been undertaken on both projects. The Kishanganga project either has been completed or is nearing completion. In fact, India notified Pakistan on Aug 12 that India intends to fill the plant’s dead Storage by Aug 20.

Pakistan argued that “any works completed in violation of the treaty have been undertaken by India at its own risk” and could not be presented as fait accompli in any negotiations.

Published in Dawn December 27th, 2016

Comments (32) Closed

Dr. Farooq Khan Dec 27, 2016 07:43am

No need to talk. They won't listen. Please Sir, invest in human resource development of our nation. That's the only way we can tackle this problem.

Meow Dec 27, 2016 07:56am

First show the works that you know how to build a dam by completing one on neelam

A Dec 27, 2016 08:08am

The main reason for water crisis is fast population growth in both the countries.

Pakistan's water utilisation facilities are also poor and it loses a lot of water due to seepage in the canal system. The capacities of the reservoirs in the dam in the country is also low.Major Dam project is kept on hold as World Bank has declined funding.

India has decided to use 20% to the fullest extent. Similarly Pakistan should take steps to use its share of 80% to the fullest extent. It is NOT utilised even 50% at present.Going to World Bank may help to get funding but it will be delayed.

ACROSS THE BORDER Dec 27, 2016 08:30am

I sincerely wish India and Pakistan resolve this amicably. I hurts me no end that two estranged brothers are fighting each other for no gain!

When can we have the same or better relationship like USA and Canada?

dr. Dec 27, 2016 08:32am

Why are the Chinese not helping?

goodnews Dec 27, 2016 08:50am

@dr. They are going to help us for sure. Let the CPEC is finish, we can take all their help

Feroz Dec 27, 2016 09:37am

What did world Bank President convey in the telephonic conversation ? What use is this historic drivel without the real content, in this case the latest conversation. It seems Pakistan is hell bent on provoking India to cancel the IWT, for what goal no one really knows.

Vikram Dec 27, 2016 10:12am

You may seek anything but as per the dispute resolution provisions, you cant force India on to the table under any circumstances. Please read the treaty and then think you will realize that coming onto the table is the only solution where give and take will happen.

TrUTH Dec 27, 2016 10:26am

@dr. Because China is only interested in Business and Money.

wellwisher Dec 27, 2016 11:30am

so much water is flowing into sea.Pl. utilise it first

Timeto stopthis Dec 27, 2016 01:25pm

First properly utilise the water you are getting. Most of it is currently flowing into the sea.

Khwarezmi Dec 27, 2016 01:23pm

Pakistan should target all dams seen as a national threat to our people, environment and economy with cruise missiles and destroy them, again and again is necessary, because there are no going back once the land becomes a desert.

Sumit Dec 27, 2016 02:21pm

@Khwarezmi and we will sit by and watch

Chandra Dec 27, 2016 02:30pm

@dr. Another thing I notice is the Pakistani citizens come to India for critical medical treatments and not visit China, their iron-brothers

Akshay Dec 27, 2016 02:54pm

@Khwarezmi Are you fool? If you target these dams then what will happen to Pakistan by the flash flood?

Pradeep Dec 27, 2016 03:00pm

Both the hydro power project will be constructed as per schedule, and nobody gonna interfere.

Vectra Dec 27, 2016 03:50pm

Rather than building dams itself for water storing and electricity generation purpose,Pakistan continues in its journey to run here and there with no clear cut road maps or explanation in mind except blaming neighbours. Btw why Pakistani establishment making it a big issue as if India has said it is going to abrogate the IWT?? India has said it will use its share of 20% fully but have not said that it will abrogate it,so why so much fuss about??

Global Peace Dec 27, 2016 03:58pm

@dr. Yes Chinese help is required to build dams not intimidating India that wont work. Build more dams ask china to help.

Riz Dec 27, 2016 04:03pm

Now we will go running to the Chinese to intervene! I wonder ehrn, if ever at all, we will be able to hold our own!

Samrat Dec 27, 2016 04:19pm

@Riz never.

Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad Dec 27, 2016 04:51pm

Uninterrupted flow of clean and natural water by the six rivers namely Sindh, Jhelum, Chenab, Sutlej, Bias & Ravi is the life-line of millions of the hapless, helpless but brave people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. There can't be any compromise on the free flow of water and its unhindered supply to the soil and people of Pakistan under the 1960 Indus water treaty with India.

Since India has been cunningly stealing water meant for Pakistan since last many decades and is maliciously delaying the bilateral negotiations to illegally and unethically complete the immoral construction of dams on its side, Pakistan is left with no other option but to ask the World bank to intervene & arbitrate in the water dispute with India by forming a neutral, independent & third party court of arbitration.

The "movers and shakers" in New Delhi must know and realize that they can't exercise their 70 years old jungle law policy of "might is right" any more. Sooner or later they have to pay for it.

Arman Dec 27, 2016 05:44pm

@Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad

"The "movers and shakers" in New Delhi must know and realize that they can't exercise their 70 years old jungle law policy of "might is right" any more. Sooner or later they have to pay for it"

Writing is on the wall ! Change your attitude and sit down so we can talk sense like old friends... as Indian Diplomat has said on this ..." More complicated problems in the world were solved by bilateral dialogue"

Vijay Dec 27, 2016 05:46pm

@dr. Chinese or any other country will not help unless there are gains for them.

Vijay Dec 27, 2016 05:45pm

@Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad Please get your facts straight Rawi, Sutlej and Beas waters were awarded to India as per the treaty.

Sks Dec 27, 2016 06:21pm

@Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad -stop propagating bravado and half truths. No one is stopping water nor abrogating IWT. After so many years only now you realized that India cunningly steals water? Why does it has to steal water rather stop which saves so many? Stop conspiracy theories and think about better water utilization.

Ravikumar Dec 27, 2016 06:42pm

India has not taken any step so far. India is also saying that they conform to the agreement. As long as India is within the covenant threshold, why is Pakistan worried and running to WB or China or elsewhere.

M.Saeed Dec 27, 2016 07:30pm

If we refuse to use our share of water and dump it into the Arabian sea, India has a right to use equal amount of water for its own use under the UN Charter of 'Rights for Human Development". Unfortunately, our politicians have never cared to read the UN's Charter of Human Rights and its chapter on rights for development. For the UN, all humans are equal, irrespective of frictions between their rulers.

M.Saeed Dec 27, 2016 07:32pm

@dr.Dread the day when China starts building dams on rivers flowing from its territories to India.

Smart Solutions Dec 27, 2016 07:56pm

Pakistan needs to be forceful in presenting its case to world bodies and try to get a justified results, without any compromise. Otherwise people of Pakistan would suffer for generation due to lack of water and possibly blame wrong decision makers.

skdking Dec 27, 2016 07:55pm

Very wise of Indians to follow the IWT in letter and spirit.

TRUESOUL Dec 27, 2016 11:02pm

@M.Saeed - I too dread that day for Pak. The day China stops Indus rivers to India, take it for granted than India will keep as much water it can for itself irrespective of the IWT.

Helloall Dec 28, 2016 12:14pm

@Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad. How the heck you know waters are being "stolen"? You don't think Sharif's or previous regimes would have noticed/said something about it by now? Writing garbage like this shows the level your of intellect. On the other hand, you will earn respect when you speak with some knowledge of the subject matter.