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Indus Water Treaty tangle: World Bank representatives meets Indian interlocutors

Aiming to break the Indo-Pak deadlock over Kishenganga and Ratle project, a World Bank representative today held talks with India, which explained its position on the matter and insisted the differences can be resolved through a bilateral mechanism or by appointment of a neutral expert.

India’s position was conveyed during a meeting World Bank representative Ian H Solomon had with senior officials of the External Affairs and Water Resources ministries. Solomon is here as part of World Bank’s efforts to break the deadlock between the two neighbours on the Kishenganga and Ratle projects which are coming up in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian side, led by Joint Secretary in the MEA, Gopal Baglay, gave a presentation on the two projects and insisted that a neutral expert should go into the issue as Pakistan has reised objections on technical grounds, government sources said.

India has been maintaining that the issue can also be settled bilaterally and sources said the World Bank should not rush in to try and resolve the differences between the two countries. They said India also maintained that the design of the projects do not violate the Indo-Pak Indus Water Treaty (IWT). Under the IWT, signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, the World Bank has a specific role of dispute resolution between the two countries.

Soloman, on his part, tried to explore ways on how to move forward, the sources said, adding he did not raise any query regarding designs of the two projects. “We made presentation. We stick to our position that there be a neutral expert to look into the issue as objections raised by Pakistan relating to the projects concerned are technical in nature. We also maintained that the project designs do not violate the IWT. Nothing was decided in the meeting,” said a source.

The World Bank had decided to set up a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to settle the disputes following Pakistan’s demand and also agreed to appoint a neutral expert sought by India. India had reacted strongly to the decision to appoint the CoA and last month the World Bank announced it would temporarily halt the two simultaneous processes to resolve the differences. India has been maintaining that it is fully conscious of its international obligations and is ready to engage in further consultations to resolve the differences regarding the two projects.