World Bank president Jim Yong Kim called Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar on phone to discuss the Pakistan-India water dispute, an official said on Tuesday.
The phone call on Monday was in relation with the latest dispute concerning two hydroelectric power plants -- Kishanganga and Ratle -- that India is building on the Indus river system, Dawn online reported.
Dar earlier wrote to Kim requesting him to help settle the water dispute between the two neighbouring nations.
He said that delaying arbitration would seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty which was signed in 1960.
The letter explained that Pakistan was not withdrawing its earlier request to the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration and since this process had already been “inordinately delayed”, Islamabad wanted the bank to appoint the chairman as soon as possible.
Pakistan believes that further delay would hurt the country’s interests as India was working on completing the two projects. Dar said that once the projects are completed, it will be difficult to undo them.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has said India’s violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) would set a dangerous precedent for other countries to behave similarly.
“Contravention of the treaty or its unilateral abrogation by India will not only violate the IWT, but also set a precedent providing other countries a possible justification to undertake similar actions,” Chaudhry said while speaking to Russian news agency Sputnik.
The treaty distributed the Indus basin rivers between the two countries, giving India control over the three eastern rivers of Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, while Pakistan has the three western rivers of Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
The treaty empowers the World Bank to arbitrate any water dispute between India and Pakistan.
Last week, Kim in a letter to the finance ministers of India and Pakistan, said he had decided to “pause” the bank’s arbitration and urged the two neighbours to decide by the end of January how they wanted to settle the dispute.
Pakistan asked the bank to appoint the chairman of the Court of Arbitration while India demanded the appointment of a neutral expert.
Kim said he was “pausing” arbitration to protect the Indus Waters Treaty, which has successfully resolved previous disputes between the two neighbours.
Tension over the water dispute intensified in November when Prime Minister Narendra Modi post the Uri attack which claimed the lives of 19 soldiers, said: “Blood and water cannot flow at the same time.”