In the matter related to Indus Water Treaty, the Hague Court gave a decision in favor of Pakistan, India said – we do not accept this at all

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In the Indus Waters Treaty case, India has maintained that it will not participate in the proceedings initiated by Pakistan at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as the dispute is already being examined by an impartial expert under the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty.

In the midst of a fierce battle between India and Pakistan over the disputes related to the Indus Water Treaty, the Hague-based International Court of Arbitration has ruled in favor of Pakistan, after which India has said that the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects in Kashmir will be referred to the Permanent Court of Arbitration. He cannot be compelled to take part in ‘illegal’ proceedings. In fact, the court has ruled that it has ‘authority’ to consider the dispute between New Delhi and Islamabad over the hydroelectricity issue. The Permanent Court of Arbitration said in a statement that it has considered the objections made by India to the jurisdiction of the court through correspondence with the World Bank. The Hague-based court said in a statement that the court rejected each of India’s objections and decided that the court has jurisdiction to consider and decide the dispute mentioned in Pakistan’s request for mediation. The statement also said that the decision has been taken unanimously, which is binding on the parties and cannot be appealed against.

India’s response

On the other hand, India has maintained that it will not participate in the proceedings initiated by Pakistan at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, as the dispute is already being examined by an impartial expert under the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty. The last meeting of neutral experts was held in The Hague on 27 and 28 February and the next meeting is to be held in September. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has said that India cannot be forced to accept or participate in illegal and parallel actions that are not specified in the treaty. Bagchi said that India’s consistent and principled position has been that the establishment of the so-called Court of Arbitration is in violation of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, as the treaty does not allow parallel proceedings for the same issue. Bagchi said that the Government of India is in talks with the Government of Pakistan regarding amendment of the Indus Waters Treaty under Article 12(3) of the treaty. He told his weekly media briefing that an impartial expert is looking into the dispute related to the Kishanganga and Ratle projects and India is participating in the proceedings of the ‘treaty-compatible’ impartial expert.

Pakistan’s response

On the other hand, encouraged by the court’s decision, Pakistan has expressed hope that India will implement the Indus Water Treaty in ‘good faith’. In Islamabad, the Foreign Office said that the Permanent Court of Arbitration “retains its jurisdiction and states that it will now proceed to resolve the issues in dispute.” The Foreign Office has said that the Indus Waters Treaty is a fundamental agreement between Pakistan and India on water sharing and Islamabad is fully committed to the implementation of the treaty, including its dispute settlement mechanism. Pakistan’s statement said, “We hope that India will also implement this treaty in good faith.”

What objection did India raise?

Let us remind you that India had issued a notice to Islamabad in January seeking review and amendment of the Indus Waters Treaty in view of Pakistan’s refusal to comply with the treaty’s dispute resolution mechanism. This treaty was signed in 1960 between the two countries in relation to trans-boundary rivers under the mediation of the World Bank. The World Bank has also signed the Indus Water Treaty. Let us also tell you that India and Pakistan had signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of talks. According to this treaty, except for some exceptions, India can use the water of the eastern rivers without restriction. India was given the right to use the waters of the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas rivers for transportation, electricity and agriculture under provisions related to India. India’s notice to Pakistan was sent in the wake of the neighboring country sticking to its stand on resolving differences on issues relating to the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects. The notice was sent under the provisions of Article 12(3) of the Indus Water Treaty.

Why did the dispute happen?

Let us also tell you that in the year 2015, Pakistan had requested to appoint a neutral expert to investigate technical objections on Indian Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects. In 2016, Pakistan unilaterally withdrew from this request and proposed to take these objections to the Court of Arbitration. India had made a separate request to send a neutral expert on the matter. India believes that simultaneous initiation of two processes on the same question and the possibility of inconsistent or contradictory results would create an unprecedented and legally untenable situation, which could jeopardize the Indus Waters Treaty. Not only this, the World Bank also agreed with India’s point in 2016 and decided to stop starting two parallel processes, as well as urged India and Pakistan to find a mutually compatible way.

-Neeraj Kumar Dubey

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