The World Bank is in the process of finalising a fresh initiative to resolve the Indus Waters Treaty and will soon approach India and Pakistan with it, according to a statement from Pakistan’s Mission to the United Nations.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim met Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday, where they discussed the treaty. “The focus of the meeting was the World Bank’s role in implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty as its administrator,” said the statement.
India’s construction of hydroelectric power projects on the Kishanganga and Ratle were in violation of the treaty as Pakistan had exclusive rights to the western rivers, Qureshi told Jim. He added that the new government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, saw this as a humanitarian issue and was not interested in politicising it.
In January 2017, Pakistan had asked India to suspend the ongoing construction of the two projects. It had asked the World Bank to set up a court of arbitration to mediate the dispute. However, a procedural delay by the World Bank had enabled India to complete work on the Kishanganga project, claimed Qureshi.
The World Bank wanted to play a constructive role in resolving the issue at the earliest, Jim reportedly told Qureshi. He added that water issues were likely to be more prominent on the international agenda with the ongoing challenge of climate change.
The Indus Waters Treaty, drawn up in September 1960 and brokered by the World Bank, lays down rules for how the water of the Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be used. According to the pact, India controls Beas, Ravi and Sutlej while Pakistan controls Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
Last month, both countries resumed the bilateral discussion on the treaty in Lahore. Before it, the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission met in New Delhi in March and exchanged details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the treaty.