World Bank Official Clarifies Institution's Role In Indus Waters Treaty Dispute Resolution

13 Aug 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat

The outgoing World Bank Country Director for Pakistan has said that the international institution is unable to make an independent decision on either the appointment of a court of arbitration or the appointment of a neutral expert in the settlement of a dispute between Pakistan and India over the Indus Waters Treaty.

Patchamuthu Illangovan told Pakistan's Dawn media outlet that “There is no provision in the treaty for the World Bank to take an independent decision", and that the World Bank takes the position that the two countries must bilaterally choose one option or the other.

Responding to a question that the World Bank had promised to be part of the development works on the Indus basin and yet it had declined funding the Diamer-Basha Dam, Illango said that while the bank was supporting other projects on the Indus River like Dasu-1 & Dasu-II, India had raised objections over the Diamer-Basha’s location in a disputed area and that it was not World Bank policy to finance disputed projects.

Further OOSKAnews coverage - Indus Waters Treaty

India and Pakistan “share” the waters of six rivers that flow through the two nations. The World Bank-brokered 1960 treaty codifies the division and management of the waters of the Indus, allocating control of the eastern rivers (the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej) to India and the western rivers (the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum) to Pakistan. The Indus River System contributes 4 per cent of India’s water resources whereas it contributes almost 70 per cent of Pakistan’s water resources. 

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised by the Pakistan government for promising supporters last year that river waters that currently flow into Pakistan under the treaty would be diverted to Indian farms and households in the region, claiming that despite the terms of the agreement, the water “belongs” to farmers of Haryana and Rajasthan.

Under the treaty, if the parties fail to resolve disputes through bilateral means the aggrieved party has the option to invoke jurisdiction of the International Court of Arbitration or a neutral expert under the auspices of the World Bank.