Pakistan to approach India by December end on Indus Water Treaty

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said Pakistan, India should consider resolving the conflict mutually and within the bounds of Indus Water Treaty.

Islamabad: Pakistan will approach India by the end of this month to address its concerns on the Ratle and Kishanganga projects, a day after the World Bank paused the separate processes initiated by the two sides under the Indus Water Treaty to allow them to resolve their disagreements, according to a media report on Wednesday.

"Pakistan's Indus Water Commissioner would establish a telephonic contact with his Indian counterpart till the end of this month and ask him to address Islamabad`s concerns on the design of Ratle and Kishanganga projects," The Nation said.

Citing official sources, the paper said Pakistan will again approach World Bank in February "if India refuses to accept our demands for change in the design of the projects or tries to use delaying tactics."

In September, the World Bank, which had mediated the Indus Water Treaty, had said it was approached by India and Pakistan and it is "responding in its limited, procedural role as set out in the treaty".

The bank said the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.

India had taken strong exception last month to the World Bank's decision to set up a Court of Arbitration and appoint a Neutral Expert to go into Pakistan's complaint against it over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

"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 said yesterday.

The World Bank president said Pakistan and India should consider resolving the conflict mutually and within the bounds of the Indus Water Treaty.

"We have decided in principle to re-approach India, but will not compromise our position. We also fear India will not change the design of projects according to the treaty," an official told the paper, seeking anonymity.

Pakistan's former law minister and Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Ahmer Bilal Soofi said the historic Indus Water Treaty was perpetual and cannot be terminated unilaterally.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Pakistan-India: Avoiding a Water War' organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Soofi said time had come that Pakistani engineers and lawyers need to sit together to interpret the Indus Water Treaty in a holistic manner. 

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