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World Bank declares pause to protect Indus Waters Treaty

The World Bank Group announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.

  • The announcement temporarily halts the appointment of a Neutral Expert, as requested by India, and the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, as requested by Pakistan,

to resolve issues regarding two hydroelectric power plants under construction by India along the Indus rivers system.

  • Both processes initiated by the respective countries were advancing at the same time, creating a risk of contradictory outcomes that could potentially endanger the Treaty.
  • The current processes under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants. The power plants are being built by India on, respectively, the Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers. Neither of the two plants are being financed by the World Bank Group.

The Indus Waters Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.

  • The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries. It also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and “disputes” that may arise between the parties.

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