WB says cannot mediate in Pakistan-India water dispute

The World Bank has expressed its inability to take an independent decision on appointment of a neutral expert or court of arbitration for settlement of a long outstanding water dispute between Pakistan and India, saying the two countries will have to bilaterally choose one option

Aug 08, 2020

The World Bank has expressed its inability to take an independent decision on appointment of a neutral expert or court of arbitration for settlement of a long outstanding water dispute between Pakistan and India, saying the two countries will have to bilaterally choose one option.

“Both India and Pakistan should come together as to which option to take forward,” said Patchamuthu Illangovan, the World Bank’s former Country Director of Pakistan, on completion of his five-year term in Islamabad.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Illango said Pakistan had made a request for appointment of a Court of Arbitration (COA) while India had sought a neutral expert to resolve their dispute on two hydroelectric projects. Because of two conflicting positions under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, the World Bank was facilitating the two governments to find ways in resolving differences and move forward.

“There is no provision in the treaty for the World Bank to take an independent decision,” he said when asked if the bank was shying away from its role even though it was part of the 1960 treaty and had been sitting on Pakistan’s request for a COA for almost four years now.

Responding to a question that the World Bank had promised to be part of the development works on the Indus basin and yet it had declined funding the Diamer-Basha Dam, Mr Illango said that while the bank was supporting other projects on the Indus River like Dasu-1 & Dasu-II, India had raised objections over the Diamer-Basha’s location in a disputed area and that it was not the WB policy to finance disputed projects.

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