March 2005 News

Islamabad responds to WB queries on Baglihar

8 March 2005
The Dawn
Qudssia Akhlaque

Islamabad: Pakistan has responded to another set of queries made by the World Bank following the response it received recently from New Delhi on questions regarding its talks with Islamabad on the controversial Baglihar dam issue , Dawn learnt on Tuesday. The World Bank's latest queries were reportedly about the Indian contention that not all bilateral channels had been exhausted to settle the issue, which under the Indus Water Treaty, was a pre-requisite for moving the bank for appointment of a neutral expert. Pakistan's position, however, is that all bilateral options had been exhausted in this regard. Foreign Office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani told reporters at the weekly news briefing on Monday that the World Bank had made some additional queries to which Pakistan would be responding. In this context, he underlined the need for early appointment of a neutral expert to arbitrate the dispute with India, saying Pakistan hoped that the bank would move fast on this front. Earlier, the World Bank had sent Pakistan a questionnaire to substantiate the objections it had raised regarding the Baglihar hydroelectric dam being constructed by India on river Chenab. According to sources, the Baglihar dam issue was discussed at a high-level meeting held here at the ministry of water and power. The meeting was attended by Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan and other officials. Pakistan moved the World Bank on Jan 18 for the appointment of a neutral expert to settle the Baglihar dam dispute after negotiations with India failed to resolve differences. Pakistan maintains that the dam design violates the Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank in 1960.


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