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Under WB Pressure : Pakistan may reverse course on Indus water dispute with India

The government is likely to backtrack from its plan to take the dispute with India over the Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects to a World Bank-appointed Court of Arbitration, a top official privy to the development told The News.

Instead, it may listen to the World Bank’s advice to move for a neutral legal expert to resolve the case, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Last month, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked the World Bank to empanel the Court of Arbitration to hear Pakistan objections to the illegal dimensions of the hydropower projects built by India on the western tributaries of the Indus River.

The World Bank brokered the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between Pakistan and India, under which Pakistan was awarded the flows of the Chenab and Jhelum rivers.

But it has so far failed to constitute the seven-member Court of Arbitration sought by Pakistan. India does not want the dispute to be referred to the court and has sought the neutral expert option. Pakistan is reluctant because the neutral legal expert who heard the Baglihar Dam dispute ruled in favour of India in 2011.

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