World Bank to Pakistan on Kishanganga hydro-project : Stand down and accept India’s offer

The World Bank has asked Pakistan to stand down on its attempts to take the Kishanganga Hydro-Project issue to the International Court of Arbitrations and accept India’s proposal of appointing neutral experts. According to reports, World Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim has asked Pakistan government to ‘stand down’ in a written communication.

Pakistan’s media has reported that the office of the Attorney General in Pakistan has received a letter from the World Bank President stating that the World Bank is ready to even appoint neutral experts if Pakistan withdraws its demands for the International Court of Arbitrations in Hague to hear the issue.

Pakistan had approached the World Bank in April over India’s construction of the Kishanganga Hydro project in Kashmir alleging that it is in violation of the Indus Water Treaty and the project will deplete water resources in Pakistan. India has been maintaining that Its share of water has also been going to Pakistan over the years since the Indus Water Treaty and Prime Minister Modi had announced soon after the Uri attacks that India will now stake claim over its own share of water. “Water and blood cannot flow together” was PM Modi’s famous statement on this matter. Over Pakistan’s complaints on the matter, India has been firm on its stand that Pakistan’s objections are only on design issues and that can be addressed by neutral experts.

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Dedicating the 330 MW Kishanganga Hydro Project to the country in May, PM Modi had announced that project is an engineering marvel and it will fulfil electricity needs of Jammu and Kashmir, which till now, had to be dependent upon supply from other states.

Pakistan has been running scared after PM Modi’s government refused to stall work on the project and its commitment to utilising the river waters to their full potential. Pakistan had also objected to other hydropower projects in the region namely the Ratle (850 MW) project on the Chenab river, Pakal Dul (1000 MW), Miyar (120 MW) and Lower Kalnai(48 MW) projects. The World Bank is the moderator between India and Pakistan on the Indus Water Treaty and Pakistan has been complaining to the international finance organisation repeatedly stating that India’s projects will deplete water levels in Pakistan’s rivers. The Modi government, however, had ignored attempted interferences and had gone ahead with the project.

After PM Modi’s inauguration of the Kishanganga project, Pakistan had reportedly submitted a forceful plea on May 22 to the World Bank, asking it to announce concerns over the inauguration of the project, but the World Bank had reportedly declined the plea and stated to Pakistan that it has ‘noted’ the development.

Pakistan had reportedly already taken the Kishanganga issue to the International Court of Arbitrations in 2010, which had stayed the project for 3 years. The court in Hague later ruled in India’s favour in 2013, stating that it is a run-of-river plant and is well within the clauses laid down in the Indus Water Treaty. Pakistan had in the past, attempted shelling in the area near the dam. In the recent case where former Indian Diplomat Madhuri Gupta was convicted on spying charges, it was also mentioned that her ISI handlers wanted inside information on details of the hydro-power plants being built in Kashmir and she had even travelled to Jammu for the purpose.

The successful completion, inauguration of the Kishanganga hydropower project and the World Bank’s refusal to entertain Pakistan’s complaints about the issue is another strategic and diplomatic achievement of Narendra Modi government.

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