Pakistan Saturday deplored the World Bank’s decision to stay neutral in the water row between Islamabad and New Delhi, urging it to help resolve the dispute between the nuclear rivals before it escalates dangerously.
In a letter seen by Anadolu Agency written by Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to World Bank head Jim Yong Kim, Dar urged the bank “to execute its obligations under the IWT [Indus Water Treaty] as the chosen appointing authority and appoint the chairman of the court of the Arbitration Indus Waters Treaty, expeditiously.”
The World Bank, which brokered 1960 treaty, earlier this month called on Pakistan and India to work to mend fences bilaterally after the two sides initiated separate processes to resolve the dispute over India’s threat to build dams. But on Dec. 12, the bank announced a temporary pause in the appointment of a neutral expert, as requested by India, and the chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan.
Islamabad objects to New Delhi's plans to construct two hydropower dams – the 850-megawatt Ratle and the 330-megawatt Kishanganga – on the Indian side, saying the projects would reduce the flow on its side.
Dar argued that the bank’s “pause” would prevent Pakistan from approaching a competent forum and having its grievances addressed.
He added that the pause was at odds with an Oct. 18 World Bank letter stating: “The Bank’s role is limited in character, and relates only to the exercise of procedural functions which do not touch upon the factual or legal merits of the contested issues.”
He stressed that as acknowledged by the World Bank, “the bank has a well-defined role, which should remain consistent with the provisions of the treaty.”
Under the treaty, the waters of the eastern rivers — the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — are allocated to India, while the three western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — go to Pakistan.
The much-needed pact was the result of international intervention following heightened tension between the two archrivals over water-sharing soon after the partition of united India in 1947.
The longstanding row took a dramatic turn when New Delhi threatened to stop honoring the treaty after a September militant attack on an army base in Indian-held Kashmir left 19 Indian soldiers dead. Senior figures in India accused Pakistan of sponsoring the attackers.
An emotional Indian Prime Narendra Modi also warned that "blood and water can’t flow together."
India and Pakistan have already fought three full-scale wars, in 1948, 1965, and 1971.
By Aamir Latif in Pakistan