LAHORE: India and Pakistan failed to reach an agreement over the dispute resolution mechanism to resolve water disputes during a fresh round of talks that concluded on Friday in Washington DC, an official said on Saturday.
A spokesperson of the World Bank said an agreement has not been reached at the conclusion of the Indus Waters Treaty meetings.
“The World Bank will continue to work with both the countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the treaty provisions,” the spokesperson added.
The World Bank, which is the mediator, hosted two-day talks from September 14 between Pakistan and India on the technical issues related to hydroelectric power plants being constructed by the latter on Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) tributaries of Jehlum and Chenab within the framework of 57 years old Indus Waters Treaty.
Pakistan raised objections over the technical design features of the hydroelectric plants, terming it a violation of the treaty signed in 1960. Both the countries have sought different mechanisms for resolving the dispute. Pakistan demands court of arbitration as it can look into both legal and technical aspects while India favours appointment of a neutral expert who can only ponder over technical issues.
Under the treaty, Pakistan has unrestricted use of two western rivers. India, in contrast, interpreted ‘other use’ mentioned in the treaty as a reason to construct the power plants and set up other projects on the rivers.
The World Bank’s spokesperson said both the countries as well as the Bank appreciated the discussions and reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the treaty.
The spokesperson said the World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the treaty, while continuing to assist the countries.
Sources said India virtually gets more time to complete Ratle hydropower project as deadlock persists. India has already completed Kishanganga hydropower project.
“So the inconclusive negotiation process effectively gives a direct benefit to India as far as constructing water projects on Jhelum and Chenab rivers that flow towards Pakistan,” a source said.
Sources told The News that Pakistan delegation lacks proactive approach for taking up water issues with India. Slackness of the official delegation has led to no development on dispute resolution mechanism, they added.
The sources said the most precarious thing about Pakistan delegation has been their continuous silence over the Indian stubbornness in resolving water disputes under the framework of Indus Waters Treaty.
The said Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters and senior officials of federal government are all mysteriously mum on these highly important issues concerning water flows of western rivers.
They added that India feels it easy to linger on the talk process for buying time,
Both the countries and the World Bank have not shared any date of the next meeting after conclusion of the talks. The World Bank official also did not respond to specific queries about schedule of next round of talks.
Newly appointed Secretary Water Resources Ministry Arif Ahmed Khan led Pakistani delegation in the meetings. Other members of the delegation included Secretary Power Division Yousuf Naseem KhoKhar, Commissioner of Indus Waters Treaty Mirza Asif Baig and Joint Secretary of Water Ministry Syed Mehar Ali Shah.
Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh led the Indian delegation, while representatives from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Power, Indus Water Commissioner and Central Water Commission participated at the meeting.