World Bank declares pause to protect Indus Waters Treaty

Published: December 13, 2016

The World Bank Group on Monday announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.

According to a press release issued by the World Bank, the announcement temporarily halts the appointment of a neutral expert, as requested by India, and the chairman of the Court of Arbitration as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus rivers system. Both processes initiated by the respective countries were advancing at the same time, creating a risk of contradictory outcomes that could potentially endanger the Treaty.

India cannot annul Indus Waters Treaty: FO

We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. 

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,” Kim added.

The pause was announced by Kim in letters to the finance ministers of India and Pakistan, stressing that the Bank was acting to safeguard the treaty. Pausing the process for now, the Bank would hold off from appointing the chairman for the Court of Arbitration or the neutral expert – appointments that had been expected on December 12 as earlier communicated by the Bank.

The current processes under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants. The power plants are being built by India on, respectively, the Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers. Neither of the two plants are being financed by the World Bank Group.

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The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict. The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries. It also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and “disputes” that may arise between the parties.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • vinsin
    Dec 13, 2016 - 10:00AM

    Only problem with Indus water treaty is that Indian Muslims never moved to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Truth
    Dec 13, 2016 - 10:20AM

    If China is violating UNCLOS’s decision why not India violate world bank’s decision. Nothing can be done by world bank if India wants to construct dams on Indian side. The best option for Pakistan is to stop supporting non-state actors. Regarding war and nuclear threat from Pakistan, the whole world knows what happens in case of war like previous wars and such talks are only talks. Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Dec 13, 2016 - 10:22AM

    Basically, World bank upheld India’s position on the dispute. India had written to World Bank that taking up the dispute to arbitration before appointment of neutral expert as specified in the treaty would endanger the Indus Water Treaty itself.
    Pakistan made a fool of itself again.Recommend

  • Greg
    Dec 13, 2016 - 11:17AM

    “The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.”

    Most successful for who? It will exist till India wants to; will go the day India chooses to.Recommend

  • silver
    Dec 13, 2016 - 11:42AM

    @ Greg

    Lol, india can do nothing. Its hand are tied. Pakistan will exercise the Chinese option to block indias water if need be. Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Dec 13, 2016 - 12:07PM

    This is a tight slap for Pakistani establishment.Why? Because the Pakistanis approached world bank first regarding these two hydroelectric projects.India countered it.Now literally world bank is saying,go and negotiate with India for which India is not ready nor it will entertain any request.So this will become another unresolved dispute like Kashmir.Outcome? India will start controlling the water by constructing more interconnecting canals and Dams.What is the option left for Pakistani authority? Approach international court of arbitration.What did China do with their verdict on south China sea?? Discarded in the dust bin.Recommend

  • Rana Mohsin
    Dec 13, 2016 - 12:24PM

    India cannot do anything against International laws, as with this India will isolate form civilized world. Recommend

  • leela4fun
    Dec 13, 2016 - 12:38PM

    For those fond of Arab culture and practices, it is time to get used to desert conditions enjoyed by Arabs!Recommend

  • Truth
    Dec 13, 2016 - 12:50PM

    Construction of two dams will definitely help people of Jammu and Kashmir. So Pakistan should not oppose this project.Recommend

  • ghazal- indian
    Dec 13, 2016 - 12:54PM

    Zahid Khan@ who ever you are you seem to have missed parental education, if not Pakistani culture. this forum is for exchanging thought or opinion not exhibit your upbringingRecommend

  • Charles hastings
    Dec 13, 2016 - 2:30PM

    Scrapping the treaty is an invitation to war.
    Pakistan will bomb the dams on the Indian side to release the waters allotted to Pakistan and any Indian retaliation will invite initially a tactical nuclear strike followed by a full nuclear response.Recommend

  • wiserneighbour
    Dec 13, 2016 - 2:31PM

    sorry to say that you lack geographical awareness.If China stops water,it will affect Bangladesh as well where they are struggling to maintain good relationship.Chinese have invested millions of dollars and they won’t antagonise them because it’s a big market for them and they are investing huge amount of money.So go and figure out how to save your water.Recommend

  • KalaSach
    Dec 14, 2016 - 8:45AM

    “IWT works because water flows from India to Pakistan, had it been flowing from Pakistan to India it would have been stopped flowing a long time ago”Recommend

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