ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the World Bank have failed to reach an agreement on a way forward to address the former’s concerns over violation of the Indus Waters Treaty by India, as a strong Indian lobby in Washington again frustrated the latest push to stop New Delhi from violating the treaty.
“An agreement on the way forward was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings” between the Pakistani delegation and the World Bank officials, announced the Washington-based lender on Wednesday.
It added that several procedural options for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the Indus Basin Treaty’s provisions were discussed by both the parties.
“While an agreement on the way forward was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both the countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the treaty provisions,” stated the World Bank.
But a Pakistani official who attended the meetings claimed that the World Bank has assured to bring resolution to the longstanding dispute. He added that Pakistan lodged the protest in the strongest possible words.
Senior World Bank officials met on May 21-22 with a delegation from the government of Pakistan at their request to discuss the issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution.
Pakistani delegation, led by Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali, met with Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank Chief Executive Officer, and the regional management for South Asia.
The delegation of the Government of Pakistan also shared with the bank their concerns about the recent inauguration of the Kishanganga hydroelectric plant.
The Pakistani delegation had rushed to Washington after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydroelectric power plant in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK).
The Kishanganga project has the potential to disrupt flows, which will also adversely affect the recently constructed 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydropower project.
Pakistan has maintained that the dam violates the World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus River and its tributaries upon which 80% of its irrigated agriculture depends.
The disagreement serves a serious blow to Pakistan that remains unable to penetrate in the World Bank, which is under heavy influence of the Indian lobby working in Washington. The South Asian department of the World Bank is also under the influence of the Indian lobby.
Over the years, successive governments kept a blind eye over a growing Indian influence in international financial institutions. The governments have been sending retired and serving bureaucrats from the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) Group to fill technical posts in these important global bodies, which affected the country’s position.
A retired PAS officer is currently executive director in the Asian Development Bank in Manila. A former National Highway Authority chairman is now Pakistan’s executive director in the World Bank.
The post of senior adviser to the IMF executive director is vacant for last over one year due to tussle over appointment of a blue-eyed PAS officer in Washington.
To the disappointment of Islamabad, the World Bank also stated that “as a signatory to the Treaty, the World Bank’s role is limited and procedural”.
In particular, the role in relation to ‘differences’ and ‘disputes’ is limited to the designation of people to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both parties, it added.
The World Bank underlined that the Indus Waters Treaty was a profoundly important international agreement that provided 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.
“The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist the countries,” according to the handout.
In 2016, Pakistan had filed a complaint with World Bank, saying India had contravened the Washington-based lender-mandated pause placed in 2016 by completion of the Kishanganga Dam.
The Hague-based International Court of Arbitration had ruled in favour of India and allowed New Delhi in 2013 to go ahead with the construction of the Kishanganga hydro power project.
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.