Indian obduracy wrecks latest water talks

September 17, 2017 INTERNATIONAL 185 Views
Indian obduracy wrecks latest water talks

India remained obdurate as the second round of high-level talks with Pakistan, under the supervision of the World Bank, on controversial Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects ended without any result in Washington.
In the latest round of discussions, 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.
While acknowledging the Bank’s continued efforts, Pakistan has now requested the World Bank to fulfil its duties under the Indus Waters Treaty by empanelling the Court of Arbitration.
The delegations of Pakistan and India met at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington on September 14-15 to discuss the way forward in disputes pursuant to the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, concerning India’s plans to build Kishenganga and Ratle power plants. The secretary-level talks failed to resolve the impasse on the choice of forum for settlement of the disputes.
According to a handout issued by the World Bank on Saturday, an agreement could not be reached at the conclusion of the meetings between the Pakistani and Indian delegations.
Both countries and the World Bank appreciated the discussions and reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the treaty. 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 World Bank remains committed to acting in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the treaty while continuing to assist the countries, the handout said.
The Pakistani delegation was led by Secretary Water Resources Division Arif Ahmed Khan along with Secretary of Water and Power Yousuf Naseem Khokhar. The Indian delegation was led by Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh.
In 2016, Pakistan asked the World Bank to restart the process of arbitration in its water dispute with India. Pakistan had argued that only arbitration can save the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), 1960, which has successfully resolved water disputes between Pakistan and India for more than half a century.
Subsequently, on October 4, 2016, India made a request for appointment of Neutral Expert to adjudicate the same disputes.
The World Bank initially agreed to setting up both fora but later ‘paused’ both processes for establishment of the Court of Arbitration and appointment of the Neutral Expert for the reason that two forums carry the potential for conflicting rulings.
In an effort to resolve the impasse, the World Bank then invited the secretaries for ministries of Water Resources of both countries to consultations for resolution of the impasse. In the first round of consultations held in Washington DC on July 31-August 1, 2017, Pakistan proposed amendments to Indian designs that would make the project Treaty compliant. India agreed to studying those designs and the parties decided to meet again in September 2017.

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