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Is World Bank asleep?

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Narendra Modi, a hardline Indian Prime Minister, has kicked off the disputed 330 MW Kishanganga hydropower station on 20th May this year.

Woefully, this hydroelectric power plant is built on Kishanganga River which is a feeder and confluent to river Jhelum; popularly known as Neelum in Pakistan.

The formation and official commencement of the aforementioned dam by the volatile India is altogether violation of Indus Basin Treaty (IBT-1960) and the international junctions of bilateral treaties.

Not only this, India has stood firmly controvert to Pakistan’s demand to appoint neutral expert to bring a halt to these emerging political wrangling.

History is witness to the fact that Pakistan has always made endeavour for the peaceful resolution of Kishanganga project on Neelum River and 850 MW Rattle Dam on Chenab River.

It is worthwhile to mention to that despite coordinated sessions of talks between the two traditional rivals (India and Pakistan) and World Bank’s – guarantor of the IBT – mediation, India has continued her bid to complete and inaugurate the disputed project which started in 2009.

Perusing it further, the stubborn attitude of India and showing extreme rigidity towards international commitments clearly unveils Indian nefarious designs of hatred and enmity towards Pakistan.

Since the entrance of Modi in the power house of India, he has terribly escalated lurking tensions by diverting the flow of western rivers (Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum) and that is also tantamount to violation of IBT and international norms.

Therefore, being stuck in perpetual conventional threat of war over political pitfalls of dam’s controversy, Pakistan has intelligently put forwarded her honest demand before World Bank to establish a court of arbitration to wipe out woes and worries between the two neighbors.

At the same time India agreed and demanded to appoint a neutral expert to cause a deadlock. World Bank primarily gave assent to both the demands but India objected the fallacy of the process of appointing two parallel processes.

Therefore to defuse tensions, World Bank adopted a stance of taking a pause and asked both the parties involved to settle their dispute through bilateral avenues.

World Bank provided the justification of this act by writing a letter to both nuclear armed nation which maintains, “We are announcing this pause to protect the IWT and to help India and Pakistan to consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the treaty and its application to two hydro electric power plants.

This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time. I would hope that the two countries will come to an agreement by the end of January.”

The posture adopted by the World Bank entirely follows the suit of India ideology. On the other hand World Bank has skillfully avoided repairing the strained relations of Indian and Pakistan by putting all the responsibilities of reconciliation and peaceful deliberations on the shoulders of blatant rivals. The careful analysis of the ongoing scenario brings many questions in the spotlight that why the World Bank has closed eyes to lurking dangers emanating from notorious IBT? Why World Bank is giving deaf ears to Pakistan’s genuine demand of appointing a mediator to solve this issue according to the terms of IBT’s terms and conditions?

The recently updated factsheet reveals that India is deliberately violating the international norms and describing Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project (KHEP) as a storage work for power generation only. However, Pakistan has rationally and lawfully maintained and proved her stance that Indian design of KHEP will divert water from Neelum River into the Bonar Madmati Nullah. The bottom line is that India is transgressing and violating Article 111 (2) of IBT which clearly specifies that the entire flows of western rivers belongs to Pakistan. The Article 4(6) of IWT also safeguards the natural flow of the rivers and India is yet violating this article as well.

Pakistan has been crucially involved in this potential issue owing to the gravity of its importance. Pakistan, being the hydraulic and agriculturist society, draws great importance for Indus River tributaries because they are vital for sustainable livelihood, food security and economic conditions.

Moreover, Indian belligerent attitude towards Pakistan has further escalated the frosty ties between the two neighbors over the issue of building disputed Kishanganga Dam.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always threatened Pakistan openly to launch a water war against Pakistan. These instances specifies the argument that Indian is directing Pakistan towards former upper hand over the tributaries of Indus River and she can easily exploit it and can even launch a water war against the later (Pakistan).

The World Bank has postponed the involvement for time being and referred it back for bilateral settlement. But that did not work. It is therefore, a high time for World Bank to realize its responsibilities being the guarantor of the treaty and must step up for the resolution of the issue.

The World Bank should discharge its obligations under the IBT by taking the rational demand of Pakistan for the appointment of arbitration.

The writer is a freelance columnist based in Quetta.