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WASHINGTON: Pakistan has asked the World Bank to restart the process of arbitration in its water dispute with India despite New Delhi’s objections.

In its communications with the bank, Pakistan argued that only arbitration can save the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), which has successfully resolved water disputes between India and Pakistan for more than half a century.

That’s why Pakistan wants the bank to restart arbitration, even if India disagrees with the suggestion, as “much precious time has already been lost”.

Examine: Assessing India's water threat

Pakistan first asked for arbitration on Aug 19, 2016.

Last month, the World Bank paused the arbitration process, asking India and Pakistan to decide by the end of this month how they want this dispute resolved. The bank said it was doing so to protect the treaty.

The 1960 IWT gives Pakistan the right to demand the formation of the court of arbitration 60 days after submitting a formal request. That deadline expired on Oct 29, 2016.

The current dispute concerns two hydroelectric plants — Kishanganga and Ratle — that India is building on the rivers whose waters were given to Pakistan under the IWT.

The treaty recognises the World Bank as a guarantor and arbitrator and gives both India and Pakistan the right to seek arbitration if they fail to resolve a dispute bilaterally.

On Thursday, a World Bank representative, Ian H. Solomon, visited India to hold discussion on the dispute. Indian officials told Mr Solomon that Pakistan’s request for setting up a court of arbitration was not acceptable to New Delhi. Instead, they urged the bank to appoint a neutral expert.

Pakistan demands a court of arbitration because it believes the dispute involves both legal and technical issues and while a neutral expert can consider the technical aspects, only a court can deal with legal problems.

Pakistan has also completed the formality of directly inviting India to appoint three umpires.

India’s refusal gives Pakistan the right to demand the drawing of lots for the appointment of these umpires, as provided for in the IWT.

Refusal by one party to participate in the drawing of lots authorises the other to request the president of the World Bank to nominate a person to draw lots. The requesting party, however, is required to provide the World Bank with a copy of its submission to enable the bank’s president to fulfil his responsibilities. Pakistan has completed these formalities.

Pakistan also has conveyed its willingness to accept the three appointing authorities identified in the treaty for nominating members of the court of arbitration. These are the secretary general of the United Nations, the rector of the Imperial College of S and T, London and the Lord Chief Justice of England.

Pakistan told the bank that after a series of negotiations with India, it concluded that the disputes could not be resolved by bilateral negotiations.

And that’s why it decided to institute arbitration proceedings.

Inconclusive talks

In March 2016, Pakistan asked India to settle the dispute amicably and named four negotiators for the talks.

India responded on April 28, accepting Pakistan’s offer of negotiation and named four of its own negotiators.

The negotiators met in New Delhi on July 14-15, 2016 and presented their respective arguments but there were no significant changes in positions on either side. No compromise was reached on any of the disputes. This was followed by more meetings but all remained inconclusive.

Pakistan told the World Bank that it could not verify the precise status of construction because, until the July 14-15 meeting, India had refused to permit its representatives to visit the sites of the projects despite repeated requests.

Pakistan also shared with the bank the concern that despite its objections, India has continued to build the two plants.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2017

Comments (48) Closed

Think Jan 09, 2017 07:58am

All is going to be fine..Let's focus on getting our population,education,women empowerment & job creation sorted out.. Beautiful day..

Houlbelat Jan 09, 2017 08:12am

Indus Water Treaty has already lost its utility due to its inability to stop India violating its provisions and building several dams on the rivers earmarked to be used by Pakistan with only 20% diversions allowed. It is the fault of the Indus Water Commission of Pakistan for not taking up those issues with relevant bodies involved when violations were committed and before construction of dams and diversion structures.

ABCD Jan 09, 2017 08:31am

If Tribunal orders to share the water on equal basis ie 50% each, what will happen to Pakistan?

ANT Jan 09, 2017 08:44am

A necessary condition of any arbitration is that both sides have to agree.

taha Jan 09, 2017 08:45am

the previous govt was sleeping n the control switch. now they want second chance . too late.

BUDDHIR DHEKI Jan 09, 2017 09:06am


Well said. And India wanted just 20% of the water, which is its due share...

jawaid Jan 09, 2017 09:23am

Such a serious and urgent issue but the world appears to be sleeping. It strengthens the theory that when an issue is related to Pakistan the sympathy and consideration is for India disregarding the justice.

Arun-KS Jan 09, 2017 09:30am

UN, Other world bodies, Third party and Neutrals are unable to stop even wars between 2 countries. Any problem between 2 countries can only have an amicably resolved (not forcefully imposed) & mutually agreed solution, search, no dearth of such world-wide examples.

SATT Jan 09, 2017 09:38am

Actually India is not stopping the water it is stopping the generosity it was showing for the people of west Punjab and now India will use all its share of water.

boond boond pani Jan 09, 2017 09:57am

Modiji will definitely supply water to Pakistan after getting 20% of its share towards the farmers of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.

khanm Jan 09, 2017 10:01am

Islamabad urges World Bank to restart arbitration... by now if we don't know what India and rest of the world wants.. i guess we are too naive...their hypocrisy insults our intelligence.

AHA Jan 09, 2017 10:05am

One can't demand for generosity

Jan 09, 2017 10:05am

There seems to be some bizarre misunderstanding from many readers on here. The treaty forwards 20% of the Indus basin waters to India by way of Sutlej Ravi and Baes for consumption and agricultural use. That was considered a fair arrangement as majority of Indus Valley lands fall in Pakistan which was awarded 80% the Indus basin waters. No where in the treaty is India allowed for consumption waters of the western rivers - Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Which is why Pakistan wants the treaty applied. Hopefully common sense prevails and the treaty is upheld because nobody outside of South Asia is going to care if the two neighbours go down the path of water conflict.

alok Jan 09, 2017 10:41am

Let the Tribunal let water be shared 50% each. That is a fair deal.

Gazaal Jan 09, 2017 10:48am

What Pakistan will do if India says that it is getting out of IWT?

ShuckleDuck Jan 09, 2017 11:09am

@khanm what hypocrisy and what intelligence?

d.k.pamnanI Jan 09, 2017 11:15am

Younger Brother can not sit and talk for IWT with Elder Brother. Asking third party to settle which will not produce any result.

JAnab Jan 09, 2017 11:50am

Pakistan should withdraw from treaty and ask for more water from India

A shah Jan 09, 2017 12:00pm

India is unstoppable at the moment and it's not breaking any rules so what is the issue?

Raju Jan 09, 2017 12:05pm

@ABCD worse is if tribunal orders to share based on population basis

Rah Jan 09, 2017 12:15pm

How can one expect any resolution when both parties do not agree. I think Pakistan should talk to India immediately by requesting an emergency meeting.

khanm Jan 09, 2017 12:24pm

@ShuckleDuck... The world is governed by institutions that are not democratic - the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO. WB is nothing but an extension of American policy.. An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. "Can they be brought together?" This is a practical question. We must get down to it. "I despise intelligence" really means: "I cannot bear my doubts.”

Tejaswi Sharma Jan 09, 2017 12:30pm

I guess India should accept the arbitration request and let the process follow. This will give us new chance to build more dams on the precedence of this judgment. This will be an all out victory like the previous one.

dipak Jan 09, 2017 12:51pm

no storage or dams built since 70 yrs.5000 dams in india.this is basic thing for any country.

Mandy Jan 09, 2017 12:55pm

Only option Pakistan has is to sit with India and settle the big countries be it India, U.S.A or china adheres to U.N or any other international body. So taking the issue to the third party will not make any sense.

Dr. SalariA, Aamir Ahmad Jan 09, 2017 12:57pm

Mediation, arbitration, moderation and adjudication through a powerful & influential third party e.g. the U.S. & its affiliates like World Bank & IMF is the only way to resolve any and all outstanding disputes & issues between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and arch rivals in South Asia, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir & the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

Independent, neutral & third party historical data prove that the "movers and shakers" in New Delhi don't listen to any logical or sensible reasoning when it comes to its illegal 70 years old occupation of Jammu & Kashmir by its mighty armed forces.

Indian government policy from day one is to gain as much time as possible by engaging Islamabad in futile talks. For some maniac and lunatic reasons they believe that with the passage of time, people will forget about these issues, which is highly illogical and absolutely wrong.

Therefore without a third party arbitration and mediation, no issue with India could be resolved.

Joe Jan 09, 2017 01:20pm

@ABCD It may surprise you ,it could be 75 to 25 % in favour of India. Reason population,size and demand for water by India.

Bhupinder singh Jan 09, 2017 01:27pm

Indian Punjab needs water we are totally dependent on Agriculture .the awareness is growing here that water availability can be increased upto 20 % it will be a game changer in Punjab especially also in J&K. now it is said only 4-5 % of water is being utilized. demands are well within IWT..govt in Punjab who so ever wins in coming elections should ensure canals are built and entire Punjab is benefited

Ind Jan 09, 2017 01:31pm

If India is not doing any thing wrong then

Let legal arbitrator decide on matter.


Olx Jan 09, 2017 01:36pm


Atticus from india Jan 09, 2017 01:46pm

India should and will abide by IWT. The treaty is bigger than Nawaz or Modi. However, this is a much larger issue. Both countries seem determined to make life difficult for the other. Whether its support for extremists, not allowing trade route, opposing growing clout of one country, isolating a nation globally, even in field of sports. In such a backdrop,water sharing becomes just another tool to fight each other. Even within the bounds of treaty, India can make life miserable for Pakistan by timing the water release. Successful water sharing will depend on goodwill and cooperation between the countries. Neither government seems accountable for that, as foolish masses are assuaged through hollow threats against each other. The Indo-Pak situation represents mass stupidity existing on both sides of the border.

alok Jan 09, 2017 01:50pm

The water sharing was on the basis of dividing 6 rivers. 3 for INDIA and 3 for PAKISTAN. But the 3 rivers flowing into Pakistan has 80% water quantity and rivers flowing into India has 20% water quantity. Ideally the sharing should be on quantum of water. So the old treaty was not properly constructed. Best is 50% each and scope for hydroelectric project.

If WTO again gets involved, then expect INDIA to seek more water now. Population has increased further in North India. So the need is more.

saudagar Jan 09, 2017 01:51pm

it is against humanity to not share water or food with any needy ones , especially neighbours should always think that life is short but there is always time for courtesy ,why has this basic wisethought forgotten by both ends.

Taimoor Khan Jan 09, 2017 03:11pm

@ABCD There is no if and but, the three rivers under question belong to Pakistan, and that is written in the IWT. Question is, what will happen to India when China start stopping water, there is no treaty between China and India on sharing water. India start start worrying about water coming from China then raising non issues regarding IWT.

Harmony-1© Jan 09, 2017 03:15pm

@Atticus from India - Finally a decedent fair comment noticed!

GAUR Jan 09, 2017 05:09pm

@Atticus from india well said but doesn't make a difference.

Ravi Jan 09, 2017 05:27pm

@JAnab Wish there were more straight thinkers like you...

Vilas Jan 09, 2017 05:51pm

Pakistan hardly use 40 percent of water from these rivers.. rest simply flows into sea.. I never saw govt trying this much to build storage capacity for what a available.

Old boy Jan 09, 2017 08:05pm

If Pakistan receives its fair share then fine however If it is deemed unfair and Pakistan is likely to suffer as a consequence then Pakistan should seriously consider bombing the illegal dams. Illegal as they are not within the parameters of the treaty.

Old boy Jan 09, 2017 08:10pm

If it's just India getting its fair share then fine but if it was to go beyond that then it would be a serious issue only

Houlbelat Jan 09, 2017 08:22pm

@ABCD: Share has already been divided on river course's basis. Waters of all 3 Eastern Rivers (Ravi Sutlej and Beas) entirely given to India and three Western rivers' (Indus, Jehlum and Chenab) to Pakistan with 2o% of their water allowed India to divert, along with permission to build Run-of-the- river hydro-power stations on them.

Honest Jan 09, 2017 09:40pm


ANT Jan 09, 2017 10:17pm

@Taimoor Khan india doesn't need the waters from China, Bangladesh does. Similarly if China interferes with the Indus it will affect Pakistan more.

Dr Iqbal Jan 10, 2017 09:38am

If india looses arbitration like china it will abbrogate the treaty

Robert Jan 10, 2017 05:04pm

India was not fully utilizing her share of water since the treaty was signed. It is only appropriate that India exercise her right to water. India was gracious in not revoking the treaty despite a number of agression both within and at the boarders of India. Pakistan has habituated to incriminate at each and every step that India takes to resolve internal crisis. Besides, Pakistan cannot expect a treaty that is as old as the history of the two countries to be abded by. No use revoking a demised treaty.

Payal Verma Jan 10, 2017 06:44pm

@ANT absolutely true!

Bhola Bhala Jan 11, 2017 10:39am

@DR. SALARIA, AAMIR AHMAD, You are right. And that's why India is asking for a neutral third party arbitration.

Junaid ahmad Jan 11, 2017 11:49am

@Bhola Bhala Arbitration is basically a process which necessarily includes third party, but both in legal and technical aspects. while India is asking for a neutral expert just to take into account the technical aspects only. So, It must realize that a treaty has both legal as well as technical aspects.