Pak for arbitration court to resolve Kishanganga project row
REZAUL H LASKAR
Islamabad, May 20: Pakistan today said it had formally conveyed to India its intention to set up a court of arbitration under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty to resolve differences over the Kishanganga hydropower project.
“We have communicated to India about two or three days ago, clearly indicating our intention to set up a court of arbitration as provided for in the dispute-settlement mechanism under Article 9 of the Indus Waters Treaty,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said.
With Islamabad having already activated the mechanism for settling differences over the Kishanganga project, Basit expressed the hope that India would respond “positively” to Pakistan’s verbal note that was sent earlier this week.
A positive response by India would allow the two sides to “proceed ahead to resolve our differences and disputes amicably to our mutual satisfaction”, Basit said in response to a question during the weekly news briefing at the Foreign Office.
Differences over the sharing of river waters have emerged as a major irritant in bilateral relations over the past two years. Pakistan has accused India of diverting its share of scarce waters by building major hydropower projects and dams in Jammu and Kashmir.
India has denied the charge, saying water flows have been affected by climate changes and lack of rainfall.
Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, one of the two countries can opt for setting up a seven-member court of arbitration if they are unable to resolve differences on a project bilaterally.
The World Bank, which brokered the Indus Waters Treaty, and other institutions like the Secretary General of the UN, participate in the selection of three members of the court or arbitration. India and Pakistan each select two members of the court.
In response to another question about comments by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna with regard to an improvement in the atmospherics between India and Pakistan relations, Basit said: “We have seen the statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister and we cannot agree more.
“Our two countries do need to build mutual trust and confidence. It is necessary that we talk to each other, we listen to each other and we engage with each other with sincerity of purpose with a view to settling our differences and disputes and achieving peace and prosperity in the region,” he added.
Replying to another question, Basit said there are provisions in the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project that allow India to join it. “As of today we haven’t heard anything formally from India or Iran,” the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman said.
In response to another question on Indian and Pakistani nationals being held in prisons in the two countries, Basit said there are currently 585 Pakistanis in Indian jails. As a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan had freed 100 Indian fishermen last year. Subsequently, India had freed 48 Pakistani fishermen and civil prisoners.
Basit said the latest list of Pakistani prisoners provided by India did not include the names of 18 missing defence personnel. He added that India is yet to provide consular access to over 100 Pakistani prisoners.
He further said that since 2003, Pakistan had released nearly 3,000 Indian prisoners while India had freed 989 Pakistani prisoners.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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