Pakistan approaches World Bank to stop Indian projects on Neelum, Chenab

India is likely to abrogate the Indus Water Treaty (1960) with Pakistan

Pakistan has approached World Bank and urging them to stop Indian projects on the Neelum and Chenab Rivers amid speculations that India may abrogate the Indus Water Treaty (1960) with Pakistan.

As per the Dawn, an official statement issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington on Tuesday said, “In the meeting with the Pakistani delegation, the World Bank committed itself to timely fulfilling its obligations under the treaty while remaining neutral.”

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali-led Pakistani delegation met senior World Bank officials at its headquarters in Washington to discuss Pakistan’s recent request for arbitration under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), 1960.

The Article IX of the treaty deals with arbitration of disputes between the parties concerning the interpretation or application of the treaty or the existence of any fact which, if established, might constitute a breach of the treaty.

The World Bank was also reminded by Pakistan that the treaty gives the bank an important role in establishing a court of arbitration by facilitating the process of appointment of three judges, called Umpires, to the Court. Both the countries can appoint two arbitrators.

The Pakistani delegation, in its meetings with World Bank officials, insisted on early appointment of the judges and setting up the court.

The Pakistani delegation consisted, besides the attorney general, of Water and Power secretary Muhammad Younus Dagha; Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Water Mirza Asif Baig; and Joint Secretary (Water) Ahmad Irfan Aslam and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani and World Bank’s Executive Director for Pakistan Nasir Khosa.

The officials representing the World Bank were Senior Vice President Anne-Marie LeRoy, Vice President for South Asia Annette Dixon, Deputy General Counsel for Operations Alberto Ninio, Chief Counsel for South Asia Melinda Good and Senior Counsel for International Waterways Victor Mosoti.

Meanwhile, Advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has warned India that if it revokes the Indus Water Treaty, Islamabad would treat it as “an act of war”, adding that such a step would “provide China a justification to consider the suspension of waters of the Brahmaputra River”.

Speaking at the National Assembly, Aziz on Tuesday said the Indian act can be taken as a breach of international peace, which will give Islamabad a good reason to approach the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“Its revocation can be taken as an act of war, or a hostile act against Pakistan. It is highly irresponsible on the part of India to even consider revocation of the Indus Water Treaty. Unilateral revocation of IWT can pose a threat to Pakistan and its economy. This Indian act can be taken as a breach of international peace, and hence, will give Pakistan a good reason to approach the UNSC,” Aziz said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday met with officials to review provisions of the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan.

New Delhi ruled out cancelling the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan but is looking for ways of increasing its use of waters that flow from India but are controlled by Pakistan.

The treaty was inked in 1960 by the India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, which allocates 80 per cent of water to Pakistan from the six-river Indus Water System, including Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum that flows from India to Pakistan.

The treaty, brokered by the World Bank, is often considered to be one-sided and there has been growing clamour to relook at it. The pact has survived wars and phases of frosty ties between India and Pakistan.

According to reports, India currently generates about 3,000 megawatts of energy from hydropower plants along rivers in Kashmir, but believes the region has the potential to produce 18,000 megawatts.