- WB tables three options to resolve Kishanganga Dam controversy
ISLAMABAD: In a major breakthrough, the World Bank has responded to Pakistan’s plea to act as a guarantor in the Kishanganga Dam controversy, offering to pick one of the three options suggested.
The recent inauguration of 330-MW Kishanganga Dam has become a new bone of contention between Pakistan and India.
It has further augmented tensions between the two nuclear rivals in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK) where India has stationed over one million military men.
The construction of Kishanganga hydropower station started in 2009 and is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the volatile state of IoK amid frosty ties between the countries.
Pakistan has opposed around 244 Indian dams being built on rivers flowing into the country with an argument that Indians were violating the terms of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).
The IWT is mediated by the World Bank on the sharing of river-waters and its tributaries upon which 80 per cent of its irrigated agriculture depends.
A well-placed source told Pakistan Today that the World Bank had officially responded to Pakistan through a letter, asking it to choose from one of the three options provided.
The letter was received at the office of Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf in response to the recent visit of a four-member Pakistani delegation, led by Ausaf, asking the World Bank to act as a guarantor in the Kishanganga Dam issue.
The delegation apprised the World Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim and other officials about India’s repeated violations of Indus Waters Treaty during their visit to Washington D.C. last week.
“The Indus Waters Treaty is a profoundly important international agreement that provides an essential cooperative framework for India and Pakistan to address current and future challenges of effective water management to meet human needs and achieve development goals,” a World Bank spokesperson said.
“The meetings discussed concerns raised by the Pakistan delegation and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution,” he added.
An official at Ausaf’s office told Pakistan Today that the World Bank had offered Pakistan to help build six reservoirs to compensate the loss occurred due to Kishanganga.
“Moreover, World Bank has assured Pakistan it would make sure that Pakistan gets around 80 per cent river water flowing in from IoK,” the source said.
When contacted, Ashter Ausaf confirmed a receipt of the letter, saying that the World Bank letter would only be made public once it is presented to Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk.
“We have to discuss the future course of action whatever is approved by the prime minister. Once I get an approval, I would share the options tabled by the World Bank,” the source said.
However, the official stated that the caretaker PM would pick one out of three options and each option carries benefits and provides a way forward.
Although, it was told that this was not an ideal deal for Pakistan, but is a good way to break the deadlock.
The official further said, “At least we have broken the stalemate. Now we can also visit IoK for inspection of Kishenganga Dam and other reservoirs. We will convince World Bank that India is planning to divert the flow of river waters in open violation of Indus Water Treaty.”
Moreover, the source stated there had been a deadlock as soon as the Kishanganga Dam was inaugurated, adding that if Pakistan had not appealed to the World Bank, India would have further constructed 243 dams on rivers flowing into the country.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman also expressed concerns over the Kishanganga Dam inauguration stating, “Pakistan is seriously concerned about the inauguration and believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty.”