The World Bank (WB) President, Jim Yong Kim Monday made a telephonic call to the Finance Minster, Senator Ishaq Dar and discussed his December 23 letter on Indus Water Treaty (IWT). In his letter, the Finance Minister had asked the World Bank to fulfil its obligations under the Indus Water Treaty. The minister had written the letter to WB President, asking the institution to execute its obligation under Indus Waters Treaty under which no party can pause the performance of its role.
The letter was written in response to the WB’s “pause” decision. The World Bank Group had 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. The decision halted 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.
In his letter dated December 23, written to respond to WB head’s letter of December 12 to him, the finance minister emphasised that this decision of the World Bank would seriously prejudice Pakistan’s interests and rights under the Indus Waters Treaty (1960). The letter has been sent with approval of all concerned stakeholders and it strongly conveys that the matter of appointment of a Chairman of the Court of Arbitration had been inordinately delayed.
The finance minister urged the World Bank to execute its obligations under the Indus Waters Treaty as the “chosen appointing authority” and “appoint the Chairman of the Court of the Arbitration Indus Waters Treaty, expeditiously. Ishaq Dar noted that the “pause” proposed by the President World Bank Group would merely prevent Pakistan from approaching a competent forum and having its grievances addressed.
The letter from the finance minister noted that the Indus Water Treaty 1960 did not provide for a situation where in a party could “pause” performance of its obligations under the Treaty. The finance minister said the letter of December 12, 2016 from the World Bank was a departure from the World Bank’s earlier position conveyed in its letter of October 18, 2016 in which it was stated: “The Bank’s role is limited in character, and relates only to the exercise of procedural functions which do not touch upon the factual or legal merits of the contested issues”. Finance Minister Dar emphasised that as acknowledged by the World Bank, “the Bank has a well defined role, which should remain consistent with the provisions of the Treaty”.