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Water dispute with India: Pak to approach World Bank

September 28, 2009 15:57 IST
Pakistan has decided to approach the World Bank to request the appointment of a neutral expert to resolve a dispute with India over the Kishanganga hydroelectric project if bilateral efforts fail to settle the matter, according to a media report.

After failing to resolve the dispute through the Indus Waters Commission, the Pakistan government has directed the foreign office to initiate the process of requesting the appointment of a neutral expert as stipulated in the Indus Waters Treaty, the Daily Times quoted an official document as saying.

Under the treaty, the western tributaries of the Indus river were allocated to Pakistan though an article of the pact allows India to use these waters for hydropower generation.

Official sources told the newspaper that the Pakistan government will try to solve the dispute bilaterally during secretary-level talks. They said Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had already said Pakistan will discuss the dispute over sharing of river waters with India.

The Pakistan government is not anticipating "any leeway" from India and has thus finalised preparations to request the appointment of a neutral expert to resolve the matter, the sources were quoted as saying.

Both countries previously settled their differences on the Baglihar project through the arbitration of a neutral expert.

The dispute over the Kishanganga project started when India announced plans for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 0.14 MAF in 1994. This prompted Pakistan to object to the design and the diversion of flow from one of the tributaries of the Jhelum river.

Following several meetings of the Indus Waters Commission, India revised the design from "storage" to a "run-off river hydroelectric" project.

Pakistan still objects to the diversion of waters and adverse effects on agriculture in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The permanent commission on the Indus Waters Treaty requested both countries on May 11 to jointly appoint a neutral expert to resolve the matter but differences on both sides have prevented the governments from proceeding in this regard.

Under the treaty, if both countries fail to jointly appoint a neutral expert, the World Bank can appoint a person whose decision is binding on both sides. Differences over the sharing of river waters have emerged as a major irritant in relations between India and Pakistan since last year.

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