The World Bank has asked India and Pakistan to ‘agree to mediation’ in order to settle on a mechanism for how the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) should be used to resolve issues regarding two dams -- Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects.
The World Bank’s move came as it told the two countries that it was responding to their separate proceedings initiated under the IWT 1960.
Simultaneously, the World Bank held a draw of lots to determine who will appoint three umpires to sit on the Court of Arbitration that Pakistan has requested. The draw of lots was held at the World Bank headquarters here.
"The World Bank Group has a strictly procedural role under the Indus Waters Treaty and the treaty does not allow it to choose whether one procedure should take precedence over the other. This is why we drew the lots and proposed potential candidates for the Neutral Expert today," senior Vice President and World Bank Group General Counsel Anne-Marie Leroy said.
"What is clear, though, is that pursuing two concurrent processes under the treaty could make it unworkable over time and we therefore urge both parties to agree to mediation that the World Bank Group can help arrange. The two countries can also agree to suspend the two processes during the mediation process or at any time until the processes are concluded," Leroy added.
The Bank said that the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict. The Bank is a signatory to the Treaty.
The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries.
It also sets out a process for resolving so-called "questions", "differences" and "disputes" that may arise between the parties.
The current proceedings under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants. The power plants are being built by India on Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers. Neither of the two plants are being financed by the World Bank Group.
India questions WB’s 'legally untenable action'
Meanwhile, India has questioned World Bank 'legally untenable action' in dealing with Indo-Pak differences on Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects under the IWT.
Responding to a media query, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said that New Delhi will examine further options and take steps accordingly on Indus Waters Treaty.
On the issue of differences with Pakistan on these Projects, India had asked the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert to resolve the differences of a technical nature.
Pakistan had sought the establishment of a Court of Arbitration, which is normally the logical next step in the process of resolution in the Treaty. The Neutral Expert can also determine that there are issues beyond mere technical differences.
The World Bank has decided to proceed with both steps simultaneously.
It was pointed by India to the World Bank that the pursuit of two parallel difference/ dispute resolution mechanisms - appointment of a Neutral Expert and establishment of a Court of Arbitration - at the same time is legally untenable.
Inexplicably, the World Bank has decided to continue to proceed with these two parallel mechanisms simultaneously.
With Agency Inputs