Pakistan asks India to suspend work on hydro projects in Jammu and Kashmir
Pakistan’s two parliamentary committees in rare joint resolution asked India to immediately suspend work on two hydropower projects in Jammu and Kashmir and agree on the constitution of an arbitration court to resolve the water dispute.
National Assembly’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Water and Power held a joint sitting in Islamabad yesterday to discuss water issues with India.
A joint resolution unanimously adopted in the meeting asked India to halt the construction work, Dawn reported.
The resolution also called upon the World Bank to constitute a court of arbitration to adjudicate on issues raised by Pakistan against India’s ongoing construction of Kishanganga and Ratle hydro projects.
It said that under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), it is the responsibility of the World Bank to play its role without further delay.
Until the World Bank constitutes the court of arbitration, it must persuade India to put an immediate halt to ongoing construction of the Ratle dam till the issue is resolved, read the joint resolution adopted unanimously by both the government and opposition members of the committees.
The construction of dams on the western rivers by India has brought the two countries at loggerheads and Pakistan has engaged the World Bank, a facilitator of the IWT, to stop India from going ahead with the construction.
The committees were briefed on the agenda — Indian threat on the Indus Waters Treaty and to chart out a course of action for Pakistan. The meeting was co-chaired by Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari and Muhammad Arshad Khan Leghari, members of the parliament and the chairmen of the two committees.
Briefing the committees, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said all options were available with Pakistan in case India violated the IWT.
“We will not let India violate the treaty,” Chaudhry said, adding that Pakistan had already engaged the World Bank to look into the issue as guarantor.
“We have already requested the World Bank to appoint chairman of the arbitration court,” he said.
The secretary said Islamabad would defend its right at any cost. New Delhi, he alleged, was using delaying tactics while “we want to resolve the issue at the earliest”.
Pakistan has serious reservations over an Indian move to construct 45 to 60 dams on the western rivers, he said.
Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha said Pakistan was challenging the construction of Kishanganga and Ratle projects in the court of international arbitration. He, however, said India had not as yet started work on Ratle project.
Former foreign minister and Tehrik-i-Insaf leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the water dispute with India had reached such alarming proportions that it could even dwarf the Kashmir issue. He suggested the government to evolve a clear roadmap, assuring his party’s support on the issue.