US wants India, Pak to resolve Indus waters dispute bilaterally

world Updated: Jan 04, 2017 13:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Indus Waters Treaty,John Kerry,Ishaq Dar

State department spokesman John Kirby said the Indus Waters Treaty, signed in 1960 by India and Pakistan, had served as a “model for peaceful cooperation”.(HT file photo)

The United States has said it “encourages” India and Pakistan to resolve all their outstanding disputes bilaterally, including the one relating to the Indus Waters Treaty, and sees no role for itself as a mediator.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper had reported on Monday that the US had offered to mediate the dispute in a phone call between US secretary of state John Kerry and the Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar in late December.

“I can confirm that he did speak on the 29th of December with Finance Minister Dar,” state department spokesman John Kirby said in response to a question about the call from Kerry.

“I’m not going to read that out in any great detail.”

He went on to say that the Indus Waters Treaty, signed in 1960 by the two countries, had served as a “model for peaceful cooperation” and, “We encourage, as we have in the past, India and Pakistan to work together to resolve any differences”.

Asked if the US had offered to mediate, Kirby said India and Pakistan need to resolve it bilaterally, a position Washington takes on all attempts to drag it into problems between the two countries.

Recent reports in Pakistan indicated Islamabad felt frustrated by the World Bank’s decision to pause two different processes initiated by India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute arising out of two power projects planned in the Indus river system by India.

India had sought a “neutral expert” and Pakistan had asked for the chairman of the Court of Arbitration to resolve the dispute, which the World Bank--which brokered the treaty--felt created a “risk of contradictory outcomes that could potentially endanger the treaty”.

“We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim had said in a statement in December.

“This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time. I would hope the two countries will come to an agreement by the end of January.”

Islamabad, it appeared from Pakistani press reports, decided to seek Washington’s help instead.

Though Kirby gave no details about Kerry’s call with Dar, the US doesn’t want to get involved in this dispute as he reiterated US position on all India-Pakistan disputes — that it wants the two countries to resolve their differences bilaterally.

First Published: Jan 04, 2017 13:22 IST