MIRPUR (AJK)-AJK President Sardar Masood Khan has said that by inaugurating the 330MW Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant, India has violated the Indus Water Treaty and deprived Azad Jammu Kashmir and Pakistan of their share of water.

President Masood made these remarks while talking to the presidents of the bar associations and the press clubs of Azad Jammu Kashmir on Tuesday.

He said that it was an act of breach of faith because the process for the mediatory decision on the Kishanganga project was "paused", as Pakistan had demanded a constitution of a Court of Arbitration while India was insistent on a neutral expert. India has abused the "pause" to accelerate the completion and inauguration of the Kishanganga hydroelectric project to give a fait-accompli to the World Bank and Pakistan. It has thus scuttled and made a mockery of the arbitration process.

The president said that India uses such arbitration processes as well as its strained relation with Pakistan as a smokescreen to build dams in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty. He added that earlier India resorted to the same tactics for the Baglihar Dam.

He strongly condemned India's water aggression against Pakistan and said it was building a cascade of other dams on the rivers Indus, Neelum, Chenab and Jehlum such as Ratle, Swalkot, Pakal Dul and Bursar, whose cumulative megawattage is not less than 5,000 megawatts. Swalkot's capacity alone is more than 1,800 MWs. This kind of aggressive and irresponsible dam building will deprive Azad Kashmir and Pakistan of water for power generation and irrigation, he said.

He called on the president of the World Bank to directly intervene and avert the disaster by persuading India to work within the essential cooperative framework given by the treaty. He also asked the World Bank to inquire from India about its breach of trust in completing the project while the mediation was underway on Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power projects.

AJK secured desired

financial autonomy: PM

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan said AJK had secured desired financial autonomy after major increase in its share in the central government's divisible tax pool.

He expressed his gratitude to the government of Pakistan for the increase. "We have got financial autonomy and the process to bring administrative and constitutional reforms is underway," he said after chairing a cabinet meeting on Monday.

He disclosed that the federal government had increased share of AJK in federal taxes to 3.64 percent from 2.27 percent o. "With such reforms and more autonomy, our responsibilities have increased manifold. We will have to strictly maintain delicate balance between income and expenditures."

AJK got its due share because of the keen interest of PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in socio-economic development of Azad Kashmir, he emphasized. Giving credit of reforms to his party government, Khan said it was for the first in the history of AJK that Rs10 billion were raised in the development budget last year and now it further increased up to Rs 25 billion.

Farooq Haider said several issues that included increase of water use charges to AJK, state's share in federal taxes and more administrative and constitutional powers to AJK government have been lingering on for decades. The credit goes to PML-N government for resolving these issues amicably and in the best interest of the people of Azad Kashmir, he added.

He said that people would feel a clear difference after completion of PML-N government mandated five years term. The prime minister and cabinet highly appreciated the role of former Chief Secretary Ejaz Munir and Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Dr Syed Asif Hussain Shah in settlement of issues with the federal government.

The cabinet also paid tributes to Prime Minister Farooq Haider Khan for his consistent and uncompromised struggle for the rights of AJK people.