India signals peace on Indus water issue

Vikas Swarup  

Signalling a step back from tensions in the past month over the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, India said there was “no reason” the two countries could not sort out their differences as they have in the past.

“Given the will to address these matters through the appropriate mechanisms provided for in the Indus Waters Treaty, there is no reason why the technical design parameters on which Pakistan has raised objections cannot be sorted out by professional, technical experts from both sides,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.

WB concession

India’s statement comes after the World Bank acceded to its wishes and halted the two processes for mediation and arbitration that it had put into place over Pakistan’s objections to ‘design features’ in the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is a matter of satisfaction that [India’s] point has now been recognised by the World Bank. We believe that these consultations should be given adequate time,” the spokesperson said.

India had objected to the World Bank’s earlier decision as it said the acceptance of Pakistan’s appeal for an arbitration process under article IX was “illegal”, accusing the World Bank of “favouring Pakistan”. The strong language of the statement appeared to have weighed with the World Bank, and on December 12, the day its President Jim Yong Kim was due to announce the names chosen for the arbitration panel and as mediator, he instead said he was suspending the entire process at least till the end of January 2017.