Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday asked India and the World Bank to inform it about all the dams and hydropower projects proposed to be built by India under the Indus Waters Treaty on the western rivers, and not just the two projects under dispute currently.
The matter was discussed during an inter-ministerial meeting presided over by finance minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday.
Ministers and other representatives of the ministries of water and power, foreign affairs and law and justice, the attorney general’s office and civil and military experts attended the meeting.
The meeting observed that the president of the World Bank had drawn up the lots for appointment of umpires for a court of arbitration before it had put on hold the process about two months ago.
“This meant that the World Bank was convinced and had accepted Pakistan’s position,” attorney general Ashtar Ausaf claimed.
Pakistan said its stance was that not only the two schemes under dispute at the moment — the Kishanganga and Ratle projects — but technical and other details of all the upcoming projects should be shared with the World Bank and Pakistan, along with their designs and locations, so that Islamabad could examine them in a manner that they did not create problems every now and then and the treaty could function smoothly, said Ausaf.
The meeting also asked a taskforce led by the attorney general to formulate a strategy for future handling of the disputed projects.
Ausaf said the chief executive officer of the bank, Kristalina I Georgieva, who is second only in hierarchy to its president, would arrive on January 26 for deliberations on the subject.
He said the senior official was inducted into the World Bank group on January 2 and her visit to Pakistan would be her first trip outside Washington, which meant that the bank was attaching great importance to Islamabad’s case.
At the same time, Ausaf said, it was decided that the bank must be reminded that it had a critical role to play and that it should honour its responsibilities under the treaty.
The finance ministry said that Pakistan viewed the treaty as a useful and time-tested mechanism for sharing water with India and that Islamabad had always abided by it.
It said it was in the interest of both countries that they continue to implement the terms of the treaty. In this spirit, Pakistan would continue to fulfil its obligations under the IWT. The contrasting stances of Pakistan and India were deliberated in detail at the meeting.
The treaty, signed in 1960, gives India control over the three eastern rivers of the Indus basin — the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — while Pakistan has the three western rivers — the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
The IWT also sets up a mechanism, the Permanent Indus Commission, which includes a commissioner from each country.
The current dispute revolves around the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric plants. India is building the plants on the Kishanganga and Chenab rivers, which Pakistan claims violates the IWT.