Optimism From Islamabad After Delegation Visits World Bank; Water Is Pakistan's "Jugular Vein"

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Pakistan's Foreign Office has said the matter of river waters is as important to it as a jugular vein, but that the country wants to resolve all issues with India through dialog

Addressing a weekly news briefing June 7, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said: “For Pakistan, water is its jugular vein, as we are largely an agro-based economy.” (The Nation)

Pakistan, he said, has maintained its consistent position that only through uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue can resolve the issues between the two countries, andding that "it is India that has imposed conditionalities for holding the dialog process".

He said there was no doubt that it was the World Bank’s responsibility to empanel the Court of Arbitration, as envisaged in the Indus Waters Treaty, and that Pakistan continue to "agitate this issue with the Bank".

A high-level Pakistan delegation met World Bank officials in Washington May 21 and 22 to present the country's case about height of the controversial Kishanganga hydropower dam, its capacity to accumulate water damaging the ecosystems of the Neelum and Jhelum rivers, and Pakistan’s demand for establishment of a court of arbitration to settle the dispute.

Pakistan media has reported senior officials privy to the discussions as expressing positive developments in coming months from the World Bank.

Following the Washington meeting the World Bank said it still remains committed to helping Pakistan resolve issues associated with the construction of India's Kishanganga plant "in an amicable manner”.

Under the terms of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, The World Bank has acted as a mediator between the countries, but the bank noted its role is "limited and procedural", with its primary responsibility being the designation of people to fulfill certain roles to settle differences when requested by either or both countries.

"The Indus Waters Treaty is a profoundly important international agreement that provides an essential cooperative framework for India and Pakistan to address current and future challenges of effective water management to meet human needs and achieve development goals," the World Bank said in a statement.

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