India questions World Bank's stand on Indus Waters Treaty
In a significant development in the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) matter, India on Thursday questioned the World Bank's move to appoint two separate processes—a neutral expert and a court of arbitration—to resolve disputes between Pakistan and New Delhi on the Ratle and Kishenganga hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Why does this story matter?
- India sent a notice to Pakistan last week looking for a modification and review of the 62-year-old treaty to manage the cross-border rivers following Islamabad's "intransigence" in handling conflicts.
- Per the pact, all disputes must be sorted under a three-stage approach.
- In the cases of the Ratle and Kishenganga hydroelectric projects, India felt the World Bank's move was a breach of the IWT.
India's reaction to World Bank's decision to resolve Indo-Pak disputes
During his routine address on Thursday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi questioned the World Bank's recent move and raised concerns. "I do not think they (World Bank) are in a position to interpret the treaty for us. It is a treaty between our two countries and our assessment of the treaty is that there is a provision of graded approach," said Bagchi.
India unhappy over appointment of Court of Arbitration
New Delhi's decision to send Islamabad a notice was to express its intention to amend the IWT, just months after the World Bank revealed it had appointed a neutral expert and a Court of Arbitration to settle the disputes in Ratle and Kishenganga hydroelectric projects. As per PTI reports, India has been highly dissatisfied with the Court of Arbitration's appointment.
India called Pakistan over breach of treaty: Bagchi
The MEA spokesperson also revealed that India phoned Pakistan to notify it of a reasonable date for the commencement of bilateral negotiations within the next 90 days under article 12(III) of the treaty. "I am not aware of a response from Pakistan as yet. I am not aware of any response or comment by the World Bank," Bagchi added.
Government-to-government negotiations needed to resolve matter: Bagchi
"This notice was issued with the intent to provide an opportunity to Pakistan to enter into government-to-government negotiations to rectify the ongoing material breach of the treaty," he said.
Video of MEA spokesperson's recent press address
Know about the Indus Waters Treaty
Brokered by the World Bank, the IWT can be defined as a water distribution pact between Pakistan and India. On 19 September 1960, the agreement was penned by then-Pakistani President Ayub Khan and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The purpose of it is to administer how the Indus River and all its tributaries will be utilized.