Pakistan News

Response to WB arbitration halt being weighed

Response to WB arbitration halt being weighed

LAHORE: Discussions at the government level are under way to decide how best to handle the ongoing water dispute between Pakis­tan and India, Commissioner for Indus Waters Mirza Asif Baig said on Wednesday.

“We have received the letter from the World Bank that has halted the process of the court of arbitration, as was requested earlier by Pakis­tan. Instead it has asked both governments to resolve the dispute bilaterally. We are yet to make an opinion and it is premature to say anything conclusive,” Mr Baig told Dawn over the phone.

When asked if either country had contacted the other following the written correspondence, Mr Baig reiterated his previous statement that the matter was under discussion within government departments.

On the other hand, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Wednesday that his country was “fully conscious” of its international obligations and was “ready to engage in further consultations”.

Pakistani and Indian officials said they would consider resuming direct talks on water sharing after the World Bank halted the process to arbitrate a longstanding dispute over two Indian hydroelectric projects.

Former Indus commissioner Jamat Ali Shah was of the view that the Pakistani side had put forward a request to the court of arbitration without doing its homework. The Indian side had pleaded the same case of appointing neutral experts which Pakistan had already done in 2010.

He said it was high time for Pakistan to consider the appointment of neutral experts with India and come up with an amicable resolution on the designs of both Indian dams under the Indus Waters Treaty otherwise Pakistan could suffer irreparable loss.

Mr Shah said that India had somehow managed to convince the World Bank that the latter could not appoint an arbitrator legally, adding that the Indian government had succeeded in buying more time till January to get a verdict in its favour.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2016

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