World Bank asks Pakistan to not pursue dispute against India over Kishanganga Dam in ICA
While disputes spill over at the borders of India and Pakistan, there has been sufficient speculation over the Kishanganga dam issue wherein Pakistan is apprehensive that acceding to India’s demand will “close the doors” of arbitration for Islamabad. It would also mean that Pakistan has “surrendered” its right to raise disputes before international courts, the report added.
On May 25, Pakistan had warned that water issues with India can lead to a dangerous situation and that Islamabad wants a peaceful resolution of such problems as per the spirit of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Faisal, during the weekly media briefing, said the World Bank has assured that the international agreement will not be breached.
He said Islamabad has been effectively raising the issue of India’s Kishanganga project to resolve it through a dispute resolution mechanism provided by the pact.
The warning came close on the heels of a meeting between the World Bank and Pakistan. During the meeting, the international body failed to reach an agreement with Pakistan to address the latter’s concerns regarding the Indus Waters Treaty with India. The meeting came days after India inaugurated the Kishanganga hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
During the meetings, held at Pakistan’s request to discuss issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution, “several procedural options” for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the treaty’s provisions were discussed, the Bank said.
“While an agreement on the way forward was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the treaty provisions,” the Bank said in a statement at the end of the talks.
In May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan had protested the inauguration claiming that the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.
Islamabad had been raising objections over the design of the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project, saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries. But, India says the project design was well within parameters of the treaty.
The project, located at Bandipore in North Kashmir, envisages diversion of water of Kishan Ganga river to underground powerhouse through a 23.25-km-long headrace tunnel to generate 1713 million units per annum.
Here’s where the dispute over international waters has caused a dispute in which the World Bank (WB) has asked Pakistan to stop pursuing the Kishanganga dam dispute in the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) and instead accept India’s offer of appointing a “neutral expert”.
“Pakistan believed that acceding to India’s proposal of referring the dispute to neutral experts or withdrawing from its stand would mean closing the doors of arbitration and surrendering its right of raising disputes before international courts. It will become a precedent and every time a dispute emerges between Pakistan and India, the latter will always opt for dispute resolution through neutral experts,” the report said, quoting a source privy to the development.
It only remains as a matter of time to see whether Pakistan agrees and takes into account the neutrality of the matter or working through the ICA whilst the World Bank backs India.