Pakistan requests Arbitration Panel after Indus Water Treaty talks fail to reach agreement

September 16, 2017
Samaa Web Desk

WASHINGTON: Pakistan requested the World Bank to set up the Court of Arbitration after two-day secretary-level talks that ended on Friday failed to resolve the deadlock over India’s plans to build Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric plants.

The talks were held at the World Bank Headquarters on Sept 14-15 to discuss the way forward in disputes pursuant to the Indus Water Treaty, 1960 regarding building of two hydroelectric plants. The talks failed to resolve the impasse on choice of forum for the settlement of the dispute.

“Pakistan has now requested the World Bank to fulfil its duties under the Treaty empanelling the Court of Arbitration after the two sides failed to reach an agreement,” reliable sources in knowledge of the discussion at the World Bank told APP.

It may be recalled that Pakistan, after raising objections on India’s plans in the Permanent Indus Commission for over a decade, requested the World Bank in August last year to set up a Court of Arbitration as provided in the Indus Waters Treaty. In October that year, India also made a request for appointment of Neutral Expert to adjudicate the same dispute.

The World Bank had initially agreed to set up the two forums but later “paused” both the processes for the reasons that they carry the potential for conflicting rulings. Subsequently, in order to resolve the impasse, the World Bank invited the Water Officials from both the countries for consultation to break the deadlock.

During the first round of consultation that was held in Washington on July 31-August 1, 2017, Pakistan proposed amendments to Indian designs that would make the project in line with the provisions of the Treaty. The two sides agreed to meet again in September after India agreed to study designs as proposed by Pakistan.

However, according to informed sources, in the latest round of discussion that ended on Friday, India not only refused to accept any of the amendments proposed by Pakistan but also refused to agree to any of the dispute settlement options proposed by the World Bank.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the World Bank appreciated the discussion but said that the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement on the issues.

“While an agreement has not been 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 statement said.

“The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the treaty,” the statement added.

According to the sources, while acknowledging the Bank’s continued effort to resolve the matter, Pakistan has now again requested the world body to fulfil its duties under the Treaty by setting up the Court.

Published in Pakistan

Story first published: 16th September 2017