LAHORE - The federal government is reluctant to raise the water dispute with India at international level, The Nation has learnt through knowledgeable sources in the Ministry of Water and Power.

The sources say the unwillingness of Islamabad to raise the issue of two controversial hydel projects being built by India in Occupied Kashmir before the World Bank is giving New Delhi undue advantage.

The Indus Water Commission of Pakistan had termed Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project (330MW) and Ratle Hydroelectric Project (850MW) controversial and gross violation of Indus Water Treaty signed between the two countries.

The government earlier had expressed its resolve to place the matter before the World Bank which, being a broker of the Indus Water Treaty, is bound to appoint a neutral expert to decide any dispute on the subject.

However, the whole matter has taken a surprise turn now. The issue has been pending with the government since August 2015.

A case regarding technical objections of Pakistan on both the projects has already been completed and requires only a go-ahead from the government before the relevant quarters could take up the matter with the World Bank.

Pakistan in a letter on July 24, 2014 to India had proposed appointment of an international expert to decide the issue. In response, India sent three letters to Pakistan proposing bilateral talks to resolve the dispute.

Islamabad rejected the Indian offer for talks and decided to go to the World Bank.

Sources aware of the whole development said that they were unaware what the authorities at higher level were thinking now. They hinted that lack of political will at the highest level had made it difficult to get Pakistan its due rights in the light of the accord between the two countries. They said the government had lost the case of Baglihar Dam because of its failure to raise objection on the design in time.

Kishanganga project is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the River Jhelum basin.

It is located 5km north of Bandipore in Occupied Kashmir. Ratle project is located at River Chenab.

Besides the two projects, Pakistan had also raised concern over the design of three other projects being built by India on River Chenab. These projects are: 1,000MW Pakal Dul, 120MW Miyar and 48MW Lower Kalnai.

In background interviews, officials speculated that the government had put the matter on the back burner so that the atmosphere for a composite dialogue with India should not vitiate.

Foreign secretary level talks between the two countries are scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Jan 16. However, an attack on the Pathankot base has created an uncertain situation and it is difficult to say whether the talks will be held on schedule.