ISLAMABAD: Pakistan should make efforts to secure a moratorium on the construction by India of the controversial Kishanganga hydropower project on Jhelum River, a government official said on Friday, adding that without such relief Pakistan would be losing precious time while preparing its case for submission to the International Court of Arbitration (COA) that could result in a fait accompli against Islamabad’s water rights.
Talking to Dawn, the official said that during the first meeting of the COA held in January in the Netherlands, the parties to the dispute only agreed to a schedule of proceedings that would be apparently going against Pakistan’s interests.
Under the schedule, Islamabad is required to submit its case memorial before the COA by the middle of April which would be responded to by India in six months, said the official, who holds a senior post in the Water and Power Ministry.
He said the Pakistani team should have pleaded for stopping India from going ahead with the project because New Delhi would have achieved more progress by the end of September, the time when it is required to submit its counter-case memorial.
“As of now there is no restriction on India to stop the construction work,” said an official engaged with the Pakistani team. “We will try our best to seek a moratorium on the construction when we present our case next month.”
A member of the Pakistani team confirmed that the case memorial would be submitted to the international court in the second week of April.
“So far we have not submitted the case memorial,” the official said, explaining that Pakistan had initially filed a ‘request for arbitration’ which had been taken up by UN-constituted court.
The next step is to file a formal case memorial, identifying objections over Kishanganga’s design and its impact on Pakistan’s interests.
In the first meeting, the sources said, Pakistan had objected to some information leaked by Indian authorities to the media.
The COA took a strong note of the leaks and issued a warning to India over making the court’s proceedings and procedures public before it reached any conclusion.