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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Indus Water Treaty

Image Source: ANI/X

A delegation from Pakistan arrived in Jammu on Sunday evening to participate in the Neutral Expert proceedings concerning two hydroelectric power projects in Jammu and Kashmir, as stipulated by the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). This visit marks a significant development, being the first time in over five years that Pakistani officials have visited Jammu and Kashmir under this dispute resolution mechanism established by the 1960 Treaty.

The World Bank assisted the protracted discussions between India and Pakistan to manage and share the waters of multiple cross-border rivers, which resulted in the Indus Water Treaty. The current inspection pertains specifically to the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai projects, which Pakistan has previously contested due to objections over their design features.

Initially, Pakistan sought arbitration through the Court of Arbitration regarding these projects but later withdrew this request in favor of the Neutral Expert mechanism, which India has consistently supported. This shift followed failed negotiations and subsequent appointments by the World Bank of both a Neutral Expert and the chair of the Court of Arbitration in October 2022.

Despite declining to take part in the Court of Arbitration procedure, India filed its Memorial to the Neutral Expert in August 2023 in reaction to Pakistan’s legal actions. This underscores India’s stance on resolving the disputes strictly through the mechanisms outlined in the Indus Water Treaty.

To facilitate the inspection and coordination of the visit, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has appointed 25 liaison officers. These officers will play a crucial role in ensuring smooth logistics and communication between the visiting delegations and local authorities during the inspection of the Kishenganga and Ratle projects in the Chenab valley.

Overall, this visit and ongoing proceedings are critical not only for resolving specific disputes over hydroelectric projects but also for maintaining the broader framework of cooperation and information exchange established by the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan.

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