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World Bank assures ‘neutrality’ in India-Pakistan talks over Indus Waters Treaty

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-07-2017 Lalit K. Jha

Washington: The World Bank has assured its continued neutrality and impartiality in helping India and Pakistan find an “amicable way forward” during talks over issues related to two of India’s hydroelectricity projects under Indus Waters Treaty.

Welcoming the participation of India and Pakistan in the talks to be held here on Monday, World Bank’s vice president for South Asia region Annette Dixon said, “We are pleased both parties have confirmed their participation in the meeting hosted by the World Bank in Washington, DC.”

“The World Bank welcomes the spirit of goodwill and cooperation,” Dixon said in a letter to the Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna. In the letter dated 25 July, the World Bank assured the Indian envoy its “continued neutrality and impartiality in helping the parties to find and amicable way forward.” “We hope that all parties will come to the table prepared to find a way forward that safeguards the Treaty,” it said. Union water resources secretary Amarjit Singh will lead the Indian delegation during the talks.

The Indian team will comprise officials from ministries of external affairs and water resources. The two countries last held talks over the two projects in March this year during the meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Pakistan.

Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising concerns over the designs of the two hydroelectricity projects located in Jammu and Kashmir. It demanded that the World Bank, which is the mediator between the two countries under the 57-year-old water distribution pact, set up a court of arbitration to look into its concerns.

On the other hand, India asked for appointments of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were “technical” ones. Following this, the international lender had in November 2016 initiated two simultaneous processes - for appointing neutral expert and establishment of court of arbitration - to look into technical differences between the two countries in connection with the project. The simultaneous processes, however, were halted after India objected to it. After that, representatives of the World Bank held talks with India and Pakistan to find a way out separately. PTI

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