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

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WASHINGTON, Sept 15 (APP): 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
of Arbitration.