Pak FM discusses India’s construction on Kishanganga, Ratle projects with World Bank Chief

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New York: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi raised the issue of India’s construction on the Kishanganga and Ratle projects during his meeting with World Bank Chief Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the 73rd United Nations General Assembly session here.

According to a statement issued by Pakistan’s Mission to the United Nations, Qureshi met Kim on Monday and the focus of their meeting was the World Bank’s role in implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty as its administrator.

Qureshi presented Pakistan’s position on the Kishanganga and Ratle projects, it said.

He told the World Bank Chief that India’s construction of these projects represented a violation of the Treaty, which gave Pakistan exclusive rights to western rivers.

India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory.

The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, there have been disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.

Qureshi emphasised that the procedural delay on Pakistan’s request to the World Bank to empanel the Court of Arbitration had resulted in completion of the Kishanganga Projects while construction work on Ratle was in progress.

He said the Pakistan government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan viewed this as a humanitarian issue with lives and livelihoods of millions at stake.

Qureshi said Pakistan was not interested in politicising the issue, the statement said.

According to the statement, Kim said he understood Pakistan’s position on the treaty and expressed the bank’s desire to play a constructive role in resolving the matter at the earliest.

He said the World Bank was in the process of finalising a fresh initiative and would soon be approaching Pakistan and India with details, it said.

The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank and signed by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s president Ayub Khan, administers how the water of the Indus river and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised.

Under the provisions of the treaty, waters of the eastern rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi had been allocated to India and the western rivers the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.

Islamabad had been raising objections over the design of the Kishanganga hydroelectric project, saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries.

However, India said that the project design was well within the treaty’s parameters.

The Kishanganga project was started in 2007 but on May 17, 2010, Pakistan moved for international arbitration against India under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

The Hague-based International Court of Arbitration allowed India in 2013 to go ahead with construction of the project in North Kashmir and upheld India’s right under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty to divert waters from the Kishanganga for power generation in Jammu and Kashmir.

The international court, however, decided that India shall release a minimum flow of nine cubic metres per second into the Kishanganga river (known as Neelam in Pakistan) at all times to maintain environmental flows. PTI