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Pakistan asks World Bank to stop ‘illegal’ Indian water projects

world Updated: Sep 28, 2016 21:27 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
India-Pakistan tensions

In this photograph taken on July 5, 2014, the Salal Hydro Power project dam on Chenab river is seen in Riasi.(AFP)

Pakistan has taken its case on the Indus Waters Treaty to the World Bank, asking it to prevent India from going ahead with any “illegal constructions” on the Neelum and Chenab rivers.

The move followed the Indian government’s decision to suspend talks under the Indus Waters Commission as a response to the terror attack in Uri that killed 18 soldiers.

Chairing a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday that was attended by army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, National Security Advisor Nasir Janjua and senior officials, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that one country cannot unilaterally separate itself from the Indus Waters Treaty.

A Pakistani delegation led by attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali met senior World Bank officials at its headquarters in Washington on Tuesday to discuss Islamabad’s request for arbitration under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty.

After the failure of secretary-level talks on August 19, Pakistan began dispute settlement proceedings under the treaty. It formally requested India to settle disputes over the construction of Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric plants on Neelum and Chenab rivers by referring the matter to a court of arbitration as provided in Article IX.

During the meeting with World Bank officials, including senior vice president Anne-Marie LeRoy, Pakistan insisted on the early appointment of judges and setting up of the court.

Pakistan reminded the World Bank that the pact gives it an important role in establishing a court of arbitration by facilitating the appointment of three judges. India and Pakistan will each appoint two arbitrators.

A statement issued by the Pakistan embassy in Washington said, “In the meeting with the Pakistani delegation, the World Bank committed itself to timely fulfilling its obligations under the treaty while remaining neutral.”

The pact, which was brokered by the World Bank, gives India complete rights to the eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) and Pakistan the rights over the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab), with limited allowance for India to use waters from the western rivers for power generation.

The meeting chaired by the Prime Minister reviewed matters related to national security and Sharif said Pakistan is fully capable of “meeting any internal or external security threat”. Pakistan had shown “unequalled and unprecedented restraint despite great provocation”, he added.

The meeting also expressed concern at rights violations in Kashmir and Sharif said Pakistan will continue to extend moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.

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