UN, WB may decide on Kishenganga umpires
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 08, 2010, 18:21
New Delhi: With just a week left for expiry of deadline and both India and Pakistan unable to decide on the names of umpires for Kishenganga arbitration, the process seems to be heading for international intervention even as New Delhi has proposed to Pakistan July 12 as a date to settle the umpire issue bilaterally.

While both sides named two arbitrators each within the 30 days of initiation of the arbitration process on May 18, they have failed to decide so far on the three umpires, including a Chairman, for the court of arbitration to settle the Kishenganga water dispute. The final date for selecting these umpires is July 16.

Pakistan had "instituted" arbitration proceedings on May 18 on the Kishenganga Hydro-electric Project by appointing Bruno Simma and Jan Paulsson as its arbitrators for the seven-member Court of Arbitration, which is being set up in accordance with the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, the Indian side said while appointing their arbitrators on June 16.

India nominated a judge of the Geneva-based International Court of Justice Peter Tomka and a Swiss international law expert Lucius Caflisch to represent it in the Kishenganga project dispute.

India also invited Pakistan government for consultations on July 5-6 regarding the appointment of three umpires, including a Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, by mutual agreement.

Though Pakistan did not come for the consultations, it proposed exchanging names of umpires, selected by both countries respectively, officials sources said.

However, after legal consultation, India insisted on holding discussion on the selection of the umpires instead of exchanging names, which had a possibility of being vetoed by either country, they said.

With the process appearing to head towards international intervention under which UN and World Bank will select the names using draw of lots, India yesterday again invited Pakistan to hold bilateral consultations, with either an Indian team visiting Islamabad or their team coming here, on July 12 to resolve the issue, the sources said.

As per the provisions of the Treaty, if the two countries fail to appoint umpires within 30 days of appointment of arbitrators from both sides, then the two parties prepare a draw of lots and request a "person" mentioned in the Treaty to select the umpire.

While the Chairman can be selected by either the Secretary General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank, the engineer member umpire can be selected from a lot by President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Rector, Imperial College of Science and Technology, London.

The Legal member umpire can be selected from a draw of lots by either the Chief Justice of the United States or Lord Chief Justice of England, as per the provisions of the Treaty.

Pakistan is objecting to construction of 330-MW hydro power plant on Kishenganga, a tributary of the Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir, and has sought arbitration by the international court under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

The court of arbitration route is taken when the issue does not pertain to a technicality and concerns the legal disputes over the interpretation of the Treaty itself.

Pakistan is learnt to have sought legal interpretation on two major parameters concerning the diversion of Kishenganga water for the power project in Jammu and Kashmir.

First, it has sought the legal interpretation of India's obligations under the provisions of the Treaty that mandates India to let the water of the Western-flowing Indus Basin Rivers (Chenab, Jhelum and Indus) go to Pakistan and whether or not the Kishenganga project meets those obligations.

New Delhi maintains that it is within its rights, under the Treaty, to divert Kishenganga waters to the Bonar Madmati Nullah, another tributary of the Jhelum, which falls into the Wullar Lake before joining the Jhelum again.

Pakistan has objected to this, saying India's plan to divert water causes obstruction to the flow of Kishenganga.


First Published: Thursday, July 08, 2010, 18:21

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