Now that the first milestones on the road map for the resumption of dialogue have been laid, Pakistan hopes that India will respond to its note verbale for arbitration on the construction of the Kishanganga project.

The note verbale was sent to India on April 9 and Foreign Office sources said a delay in the Indian response could raise suspicions.

Pakistan decided to invoke Article 9 of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) after exhausting options to resolve differences with India over this project within the Permanent Indus Waters Commission.

Islamabad is now awaiting a response from New Delhi on its decision to invoke the disputes settlement mechanism.

“India needs to tell us who its two negotiators will be in the court of arbitration and also inform the World Bank about the need to appoint a neutral expert, since the two countries have been unable to resolve differences over the project.”

Ahead of his teleconference with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Indus Waters Commissioner Syed Jamait Ali Shah on Monday to discuss issues relating to the IWT and the meeting of the Permanent Indus Waters Commission in India later this month.

Amid demands from a section of technocrats for reworking the IWT, Mr. Qureshi said it was an effective mechanism and reiterated the need to address all differences including outstanding issues between the two countries over the Kishanganga project in accordance with the Treaty.

While Kashmir remains a key issue for Pakistan, the acute water shortage being faced across the country has given it an opportunity to fuel its anger towards India. Just this past Sunday, several leading political parties — including the ruling Pakistan People's Party — put their signatures to a Jamaat-ud-Dawa statement to launch a countrywide movement against India's “water aggression.”

Top priority

According to newspaper reports, the joint statement said the government should give top priority to Kashmir and water issues in the Pakistan-India dialogue.

“If India is not willing to focus on these vital issues, there is no gain in continuing such a dialogue. Pakistan must keep open the option of using force to protect our precious water resources if India does not stop these projects [Baglihar and Kishanganga].”