Pakistan has sent a note verbale to India on May 17 on the disputed Kishanganga project, clearly indicating its intention to set up a Court of Arbitration as provided in the dispute settlement mechanism under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

This was disclosed here on Thursday by Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit. This is the second note verbale that Pakistan has sent to India in two months over the project in Jammu and Kashmir. The first one was sent on April 9 where it informed India of its decision to invoke Article IX of the IWT to seek World Bank arbitration.

India till date has not responded to Pakistan's first note verbale in which Islamabad has asked New Delhi to decide on its two negotiators for the arbitration process and also inform the World Bank about the need to appoint a neutral expert as the two countries have been unable to resolve differences within the Permanent Indus Waters Commission.

The second note verbale, according to Foreign Office officials, has to do with disputes relating to water flows while the first was about “differences” over technical issues of the project. “We hope India would respond positively so [that] we can proceed ahead and have our differences and disputes over the Kishanganga project resolved amicably.”

Prisoners' issue

Asked whether India had provided the list of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, Mr. Basit said that as per the list provided on January 1, 2010, there were 633 Pakistani prisoners in India. They included 509 civilians and 124 fishermen. “In response to the humanitarian gesture by our Prime Minister whereby 100 Indian fishermen were released by Pakistan on December 24, 2009, India released 31 fishermen on January 2, 2010.” Besides, 17 Pakistani civilian prisoners were released by India on March 27 under Supreme Court directions.

Presently, there were 585 Pakistani prisoners in India but this list did not include the 18 missing defence personnel of Pakistan, Mr. Basit said. This list of 18 was handed over by India on December 22, 2009. He said by Pakistan's calculation, there were over 900 Pakistani prisoners in India. Referring to the Consular Access Agreement signed between India and Pakistan on May 21, 2008, as per which both countries had to exchange the list of prisoners in each other's custody twice a year, Mr. Basit said Pakistan had been fully abiding by this agreement and “approaches the prisoner issue as a humanitarian issue.”

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