–Spokesman says inauguration of Kishanganga dam by India without resolving dispute is violation of Indus Water Treaty
–Says Pakistan expects India to reciprocate friendly gestures it has extended towards neighbouring country
ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) has assured Pakistan that it would make utmost efforts to resolve the Kishanganga dam issues within the parameters of Indus Basin Treaty, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Friday.
FO Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal, who was part of the Pakistani team that recently visited Washington and held talks with World Bank on the issue, said this at the weekly news briefing in the federal capital.
He said Pakistan believes that the inauguration of Kishanganga Dam by India without resolution of the dispute is a violation of the treaty.
The water talks between the World Bank and Pakistan concluded on Wednesday without reaching any agreement on a way forward to address Islamabad’s concerns regarding the Kishanganga project.
A four-member delegation, led by Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, arrived at the World Bank head office to apprise the bank authorities about the country’s concerns of more than a dozen projects that India intends to complete along the Indus Basin, that Pakistan deemed in violation of the Indus Water Treaty.
Pakistan had the view that these projects would disrupt its water supplies, and insisted that the design of the recently-inaugurated Kishanganga Hydroelectric plant was not in line with the criteria laid down under the treaty. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told media earlier that its Foreign Ministry had suggested changes in the basic design to avoid treaty violations but those proposals were ignored.
As opposed to the claims made by Pakistani officials that the delegation was to meet with the World Bank president for three days to discuss technicalities of the project; the World Bank confirmed that the delegation actually met with senior officials, including the CEO Kristalina Georgieva and the regional management for South Asia on May 21 and 22 at Pakistani government’s request to discuss issues and opportunities within the Treaty.
In a statement issued by the spokesperson, the World Bank clarified saying, “as a signatory of the Treaty, the World Bank’s role is limited and procedural.”
The statement added, “It [World Bank] remains committed to acting in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist the countries. Pakistan had raised this issue in September last year as well, when delegations from both sides were at the World Bank to talk out their disagreements and concerns about the construction of the Kishenganga and Rattle hydroelectric power plants.”
‘PAKISTANI PRISONERS IN INDIA’:
Addressing reporters on Friday, the FO spokesman said that Pakistan expected the friendly gestures it had extended towards India to be reciprocated.
Faisal said that Islamabad was pursuing the release of 54 Pakistani prisoners currently languishing in Indian jails despite completing their sentences. He added that Pakistan was also waiting for India to respond to humanitarian proposals with regard to the exchange of prisoners above 60 and below 18 years of age.
“Pakistan has made positive gestures on the humanitarian track vis-a-vis India, as reflected in the release of civilian prisoners, fishermen, and the facilitation of visits of pilgrims to religious shrines. We expect our friendly gestures to be reciprocated,” Faisal said.
The FO spokesman also condemned atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir and noted that in the past week, four people had been gunned down by Indian forces.
“Despite draconian measures, the world’s largest military concentration in any disputed territory has failed to suppress the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle for the right to self-determination. We urge the international community to play its role in calling India to account for its crimes against the innocent people of the valley,” reiterated the spokesperson.
Briefing the press about other events, Faisal said that the 7th Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine was held in Istanbul, Turkey on May 18 to discuss the grave situation in the aftermath of the blatant human rights violations by the occupying forces in the state of Palestine.
“Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi led the Pakistan delegation to the summit. The PM conveyed deep appreciation to President Erdogan for convening a timely and important summit on the question of Palestine. Pakistan, along with the OIC countries strongly condemned the massacre and maiming of innocent Palestinians in April 2018 by Israeli forces,” Faisal maintained.
He added that Pakistan was hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) Legal Experts meeting from 23-25 May 2018 in Islamabad, which concludes on Friday.
“This is the first ever SCO meeting being held in Pakistan since becoming a member of SCO in June 2017. The Government of Pakistan is pleased to welcome delegations from SCO member states to Islamabad. Legal Experts from the eight member states, namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, as well as representatives of the SCO-RATS Executive Committee are participating in the meeting.”
According to the FO, the moot is discussing ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO member states.