No agreement reached between India, Pakistan during water talks at World Bank

Given the eternally fractious Indo-Pak relationship there does appear to be a willingness on both sides to continue the dialogue, and India has dropped its earlier objections and agreed to participate in a ‘Bank brokered dialogue.’ Considering the intractability of our neighbour this is a welcome development.

The recent session of talks between India and Pakistan, held to solve dispute regarding implementation of Indus Water Treaty, failed to reach an agreement on Friday, the World Bank said in a statement.

The Indus Water Treaty is a far from flawless treaty which puts Pakistan in a vulnerable position.

The IWT was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank. It is also acclaimed as one of the most successful worldwide agreements for peacefully resolving previous water disputes between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistani delegation was headed by the country’s water resources secretary Arif Ahmed Khan and included water and power secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, Pakistan’s High Commissioner of IWT Mirza Asif Baig and joint secretary of water, Syed Mehar Ali Shah.

The second round of discussions between the two countries, held on September 14 and 15 under the aegis of the World Bank, focused on resolving differences over Ratle and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects.

India is permitted to construct the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants on Jhelum and the Chenab rivers as specified in the Indus Waters Treaty. It was also responsible for the provision of funds to both countries that would allow them to construct several dams and canals to fulfill their needs.

Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh is leading a multi-disciplinary delegation at the talks, which includes representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs, Power, India’s Indus Water Commissioner and Central Water Commission.

However, the neighbouring country is interpenetrating a term “other uses” used in the treaty’s content as a permission for construction of power plants.

Pakistan disagrees with the Indian interpretation and has asked the World Bank to set up a Court of Arbitration; saying that India is not fulfilling its obligations as an upper riparian state.

Subsequently, on October 4, 2016, India made a request for appointment of neutral expert to adjudicate in the dispute.

After the last round, which concluded on Aug 1, the two delegations returned to their respective capitals for consultations on the proposals that each had brought with them.

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