Pakistan Seeks Resolution of India Water Dispute

By Tom Wright for The Wall Street Journal

Pakistan told India it wants to begin formal arbitration proceedings over an Indian dam project in Kashmir, threatening to heighten tensions ahead of high-level bilateral talks. Pakistan says India’s planned hydropower dam on the Kishanganga River would violate a 50-year-old water-sharing treaty between the two neighbors by diverting water Pakistan needs for agriculture and power generation.

India denies its project would violate the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty. It has received Pakistan’s request for arbitration and is examining it, an Indian official said. Water disputes have become a growing point of controversy between the rivals in recent months, and could become an impediment as they seek to re-establish diplomatic ties. India cut off dialogue with Pakistan after the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, but has shown an interest in restarting talks if Pakistan cracks down on terrorists on its soil.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met last month at a regional summit and agreed to move forward with dialogue. The countries’ chief foreign-policy bureaucrats will meet in late June to prepare an agenda for mid-July, when their external affairs ministers are expected to meet in Islamabad. In previous rounds of diplomacy, India and Pakistan have discussed issues ranging from trade to the fate of Kashmir, the disputed territory that is two-thirds controlled by India and over which the countries have fought two of their three wars. India has said it is open to discussing all issues in the current talks, though shutting down terrorist groups and getting Pakistan to more aggressively prosecute Mumbai suspects are its core objectives.

 India has said river-sharing disputes should be settled through the 1960 treaty, rather than in the bilateral talks. The accord split six Himalayan rivers between the countries, with the three Western ones going to Pakistan, the three Eastern ones to India, and each side retaining the right to the other side’s resources for uses such as run-of-river hydropower and irrigation. Under the treaty, the countries nominate commissioners who share data and try to resolve problems as they arise. If the commissioners can’t agree, they can seek a World Bank-appointed expert to intervene, which happened in 2005 when Pakistan objected to another big dam.

India was told to make minor changes to its design. Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Indus waters commissioner, said the country is now seeking formal arbitration proceedings—a treaty mechanism that neither side has used before—because it feels India is stalling on the Kishanganga dispute. Pakistan on Wednesday named two members that would sit on a seven-person arbitration panel. Under the treaty, India has 30 days to name its own two members, and the countries are supposed to jointly name the three other participants. If they can’t agree, the World Bank would step in to name them.

Pakistani farmers and Islamist groups have staged protests against India’s 330-megawatt hydroelectric project on the Kishanganga, which is a tributary to one of the rivers Pakistan was allotted under the treaty. Water availability in Pakistan has fallen 70% since the early 1950s to 1,500 cubic meters per capita, according to a report last year by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. India says Pakistan’s poor water management is responsible for the water shortages it is experiencing in some regions.

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    • neel123
    • May 23rd, 2010

    It has been more than a year since the Paki terrorists massacred 170 civilians in Mumbai. Not a single individual has been convicted in Pakistan, on the contrary the Paki intelligence agencies have provided cover for the masterminds.

    Pakistan needs to be treated as it deserves.

    India should throw Pakistan’s bogus claims of water dispute in the dust bin.

  1. Neel, read this article for more insight into whats been happpening with the masterminds of the attacks in Pakistani custody. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8658038.stm
    I too am frustrated with the lack of concrete steps that need to happen in order to wipe out terrorists in Pakistan.
    But surely, name calling and saying people deserve what they get is not the right approach. Recently when the Indian airlines plane crashed, I did not rejoice at the death of the innocent people and u shouldnt say Pakistan deserves to be treated in such a way that people die and starve due to a man made drought. Thanks for your comments and for your readership, nonetheless. All reasonable discourse is welcome! However,
    I want you to know that Paki is an offensive term, please refrain from using it. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing?

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