Pakistan to take Kishanganga Dam dispute to International Court of Arbitration

Pakistan to take Kishanganga Dam dispute to International Court of Arbitration
In this file photo, excavators are being used at the dam site of Kishanganga power project in Gurez, Srinagar, June 21, 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 June 2018

Pakistan to take Kishanganga Dam dispute to International Court of Arbitration

Pakistan to take Kishanganga Dam dispute to International Court of Arbitration
  • Former Minister for Water Resources has said India wants to run Pakistan dry by building controversial water reservoirs
  • Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, has declared “water shortage” a top priority of the court

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is pressing the World Bank to refer the Kishanganga Dam dispute with neighboring India to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) after a failure to resolve the issue “amicably.”
“We want to take the matter to the ICA as a last resort for the interest of Pakistan. We are extremely disappointed over the World Bank’s discriminatory role in the dispute,” Syed Javed Ali Shah, the former federal Minister for Water Resources who negotiated extensively with the World Bank on the issue, told Arab News.
Pakistan and India signed Indus Waters Treaty, a water distribution agreement, with the help of World Bank in September 1960, following nine years of negotiations.
Pakistan approached the World Bank in 2010 when India started constructing the Kishanganga Dam, saying that its design violated the Indus Waters Treaty, which was brokered by the World Bank.
“We wanted the World Bank to exert pressure on India as guarantor of the treaty, but unfortunately the dispute is not resolved despite several rounds of dialogue,” said Shah.
The former minister said that Pakistan’s only option now is to go to the ICA. “India intends to run Pakistan dry, but its dream will never be fulfilled,” he said.
Shah also confirmed that a letter from World Bank urged Pakistan to withdraw its plea of referring the Kishanganga Dam dispute to the ICA and accept India’s offer of a “neutral expert.”
“Pakistan doesn’t want to set a precedent by accepting the offer of a neutral expert as this could later be used to settle all other water disputes with India,” he said.
The World Bank’s tribunal observed that India can use water of three western rivers, but it cannot divert water for the dams. Following the tribunal’s findings, India started constructing the dam. Pakistan approached the international financial institution again in July 2016 over the matter.
Dr. Pervaiz Amir, water expert and a former member of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Climate Change, warned Pakistan that taking the dispute to the ICA could “result in abolition of the Indus Waters Treaty that has survived conflicts and wars between the nuclear-armed states.”
He urged Pakistan to focus on constructing new dams to increase water storage and to raise its water disputes with India at international forums.
Amir said Pakistan stores around 7 percent its annual water flow while India has been storing 33 percent of its annual water flow.
“Pakistan has become a water-stressed country. If reservoirs are not built on emergency basis the country could run out of water by 2025,” he warned.
On Monday, when the Supreme Court scheduled the controversial Kalabagh Dam case hearing for June 9, the Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said: “Pakistan’s existence depends on water and I will do whatever is in my power to resolve the issue.”
This has, however, sparked a debate over the construction of Kalabagh Dam as three of Pakistan’s provinces — Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — have already passed separate resolutions opposing the Kalabagh Dam.
A number of water experts and politicians from Punjab think that Kalabagh is the quick solution to address water shortage in the country due to its natural location for the reservoir.
Kalabagh Dam, which was first conceived in 1970, would have the capacity to generate 3,600 megawatts of electricity and enough water to cultivate seven million acres of currently barren land.