The tussle over the Kishangaga Dam has once again been referred to the World Bank. The issue has been moved for arbitration to the World Bank after Modi’s decision to inaugurate the contentious Dam.
It is good that Pakistan has responded to Modi’s hostile move, and involved the World Bank again to settle the dispute. Most of the contentions revolve around whether the technical aspects of the Kishanganga Dam violate the Indus Water Treaty. Also at issue is who will decide this question, with Pakistan favouring an arbitration court and India contending that an only an international technical expert should have the jurisdiction.
How likely is it that the talks will be successful for Pakistan? Most of the legalities of the Dam are derived from the December 2013 decision of The Hague Court of Arbitration. The decision of the Court did not exactly accrue in any country’s favour; while it allowed for the building of the Dam, it did so only with the strict conditions that India shall release a minimum flow of 9 cumec (cubic metre per second) into the Kishanganga River.
It would be conducive for Pakistan to use India’s past hostilities, which have increased in the last few years, to earn a favourable verdict from the World Bank. Through this dam, India has considerable power over Pakistan’s water streams, and can use the dam as a manipulative tool to threaten and suppress the water supply of Pakistan. The Kishanganga Dam also affects the construction of Pakistan’s own planned Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-Electric Project (NJHEP), due to the diversion of water.
Pakistan has been persistent in using diplomatic methods to counter India’s repeated violations of the Indus Water Treaty, and it should continue to do so. It is hoped that the World Bank will be more effective than it was last time, when the talks ended inconclusively.