Rattled Pakistan approaches World Bank on Kishenganga but fails
After the inauguration of the Kishanganga hydroelectric power station on May 19 in Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a rattled Pakistan approached the World Bank, which is the nodal agency mediating on the Indus Waters Treaty matter. But, Pakistan found no success in its plea.
The Pakistan government said on Friday in a tweet, "Pakistan believes inauguration of Kishenganga dam by India without resolution of the disputes is violation of the treaty."
Sources in the Indian government have clarified that there has been no violation. "There is no provision in the treaty for stoppage of work pending resolution of issues," said an official.
On May 21-22, a Pakistani delegation-led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali met with World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva and other senior officials to raise the issue of alleged "violations" committed by India in the Kishenganga project.
According to a statement issued by the World Bank, the delegation wanted to "discuss issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the Treaty to seek an amicable resolution."
While "procedural options" for resolving the disagreement over the "interpretation" of the Treaty's provisions were discussed, the World Bank statement said, "While an agreement on the way forward was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the Treaty provisions."
The government of Pakistan in a tweet, on the other hand, reported that the "World Bank has assured Pakistan that it would make utmost efforts to resolve the Kishenganga and Ratle dams issues within the parameters of Indus Basin Treaty."
As a signatory to the Treaty, the World Bank's role is limited and procedural. In particular, the role in relation to "differences" and "disputes" is limited to the designation of people to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both parties.
While Pakistan has been seeking amicable resolution of the dispute, they kept these two issues out of the ambit of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) Meeting which was held in March this year. Sources say, "In Kishenganga and Ratle, we offered discussions in meetings of PIC held so far which was summarily rejected by Pakistan side."
The 330MW Kishenganga hydroelectric project which was started in 2007 is located at Bandipore in North Kashmir and has seen opposition by Islamabad over the design saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries. But, The Hague-based International Court of Arbitration allowed India in 2013 to go ahead with construction of the project in North Kashmir and upheld India's right under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty to divert waters from the Kishanganga for power generation in Jammu and Kashmir.
While the project has been inaugurated, the final resolution of the dispute still eludes the two nations.
"The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist the countries," said the World Bank.