Pakistan to take up Kishanganga Dam issue with WB today

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Observer Report

Washington

Pakistan shall be raising its concerns over the inauguration of the Kishanganga hydropower plant by India during high-level talks with the World Bank in Washington today (Monday).
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, while talking to media persons, said a four-member delegation led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf will reiterate Pakistan’s demand to constitute an international court of arbitration.
The dispute revolves around a hydroelectric power plant on the Kishanganga River, which is a tributary of the Jhelum and is known as the Neelum in Pakistan.
The inauguration of Kishanganga hydropower plant which took place on Saturday includes a dam on the tributary barely metres away from the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan has termed the project’s inauguration a serious breach of the Indus Water Treaty which was hammered out by the World Bank in 1960.
Chaudhry has said that it is imperative that the World Bank as a guarantor of the accord intervene and fulfil its duty.
He expressed grave concern over the dam’s construction as it will likely disrupt the flow of water into Pakistan which is especially crucial for the country’s agriculture.
The 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydropower station is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the disputed Himalayan region amid frosty ties between the two countries. India reportedly plans on undertaking several such projects in the disputed territory.
Pakistan has opposed some of these projects, saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of waters from the Indus and its tributaries upon which 80 per cent of its irrigated agriculture depends.
“Pakistan is seriously concerned about the inauguration (of the Kishanganga plant),” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday. “Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)”.
The Kishanganga project was delayed for several years as Pakistan dragged India to the International Court of Arbitration, which ruled in India’s favour in 2013. India has said the hydropower projects underway in Jammu and Kashmir are “run-of-the-river” schemes that use the river’s flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the treaty. While responding to US moving its embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the ambassador reiterated that Pakistan holds reservations on Washington’s decision. Pakistan expresses concerns over US embassy move to Jerusalem.
On May 14, the new US embassy to Israel officially opened in Jerusalem as US President Donald Trump has formally recognised the holy city as the country’s capital.
The opening comes after a day of celebratory festivities in Israel juxtaposed with mass protests along the border of Israel that left at least 60 Palestinians dead and more than 1,000 injured—making it one of the bloodiest day of weeks of demonstrations that have cast a cloud over the embassy opening.

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