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Dam dispute:World Bank wants Pak to accept ‘neutral expert’

Monitor News Bureau

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Islamabad, Jun 05: The World Bank has asked Pakistan to stand down from pursuing its stand of referring the Kishanganga dam dispute to the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) and instead accept India’s offer of appointing a “neutral expert”.

In a fresh communication last week, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim advised the government to withdraw from its stand of taking the matter to the ICA for which the bank had on Nov 10, 2016 even picked a US chief justice, the rector of Imperial College, London, and the WB president for appointing chairman of the court to resolve the dispute over the dam.

Pakistan considers the construction of the Kishanganga dam in India-held Kashmir over the waters flowing into the western rivers a violation of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 since it will not only alter the course of the river but also deplete the water level of the rivers that flow into Pakistan. Thus the dispute should be referred to the international court of arbitration.

 

On the other hand, India describes the issue as differences between it and Pakistan over the design of the dam and, therefore, it should be addressed by some neutral experts.

A source privy to the development told Dawn that Pakistan believed that acceding to India’s proposal of referring the dispute to neutral experts or withdrawing from its stand would mean closing the doors of arbitration and surrendering its right of raising disputes before international courts. “It will become a precedent and every time a dispute emerges between Pakistan and India, the latter will always opt for dispute resolution through neutral experts,” he said.

In Dec 12, 2016, the WB president had informed Pakistan through a letter to then finance minister Ishaq Dar that he had decided to “pause” the process of appointing the ICA chairman as well as the neutral expert.

At this, Dar had lodged a strong protest with the World Bank telling it point-blank that Pakistan would not recognise the pause. He had asked the bank to play its due role in the matter.

Pakistan believes that on the one hand the World Bank has tied its hands from raising the dispute at the ICA, and on the other, it has not blocked the Indian effort to complete the construction of the dam.

The World Bank did not even heed to Pakistan’s concern when provided with satellite images during a number meetings with the bank that India was constructing the dam. The bank even denied Pakistan the opportunity to stay the construction of the dam.

In February last year, the World Bank further extended its pause until the secretary-level talks between the two countries bore some fruits. Subsequently, four rounds of talks were held in February, April, July and September in Washington in which the bank was willing to appoint an international court to determine which forum under the treaty was proper — arbitration or neutral experts. But India did not accept it, the source said.

The World Bank even declined Pakistan’s forceful plea on May 22, 2018, asking it to express concern by stating that it had “noted the inauguration of the Kishanganga Dam by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, the source added.

The 1960 treaty recognises the World Bank as an arbitrator in water disputes between India and Pakistan as the bank played a key role in concluding this agreement which allows India to have control over the water flowing into three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej — also permitting India that it may use the water of western rivers — Chenab, Jhelum and Indus — but it cannot divert the same.

India considers this as a permission to build “run-of-the-river” hydel projects that neither change the course of the river nor deplete the water level downstream.


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Day 39: Normal life still out of gear in Kashmir; schools remain shut, public transport off roads

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar: Normal life remained affected in Kashmir as the stalemate following the abrogation of Article 370 entered its 39th day on Thursday with schools closed and public transport off the roads, officials said.

Restrictions on the movement or assembly of people have been lifted from most areas of the valley, but security forces continued to be deployed to maintain law and order, the officials said.

They said the authorities were also considering easing out restrictions on mobile communications and restoring voice call services.

 

While landlines across the valley were functional, voice calls on mobile devices were working only in Kupwara and Handwara police districts of north Kashmir.

However, normal life remained severely affected across the valley due to shutdown which entered 39th day on Thursday, the officials said.

Markets and other business establishments remained closed, while public transport was off the roads across the valley, they added.

Internet services remained suspended across all platforms, the officials said.

The efforts of the state government to open schools have not borne any fruit as parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.

Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into custody while mainstream leaders including three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have also been either detained or placed under house arrest.

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NC leader Akbar Lone ‘appreciates’ Pakistan’s role in raking up Kashmir issue

Agencies

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SRINAGAR: National Conference leader and MP Akbar Lone has “appreciated” the role of Pakistan in raking up the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India, even as he said that his party must contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Lone told IANS in an interview that contesting elections has been compulsion in the past though “Kashmiris don’t belong to India”.

“We will have to first understand what powers the new Assembly will have in the event of any elections taking place. As a man from National Conference, whatever the elections, we must contest elections,” he said.

 

Batting for a united stand by political parties against the abrogation of Article 370, Lone said that all parties must stand together for the restoration of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

“All parties like the Congress, National Conference, PDP and other small and big groups must join hands to carry out agitation against India for the return of the special status of the state,” Lone added.

Lone said the clampdown in Kashmir is stopping people from showing their resentment against the scrapping of the special status.

“It is military rule in Kashmir. Every nook and corner of the state is guarded by the Army, by paramilitary forces, people are not allowed to come out, if they would have been allowed to come out, they would have showed their resentment,” Lone said.

He said that he “appreciated” the role of Pakistan and other countries in raking the Kashmir issue internationally and “putting pressure” on India.

“It is a good thing that Pakistan or China or US any other country rakes up the Kashmir issue internationally and supports the cause, they have exposed India, otherwise India would have taken the move as a success without caring about who is who,” he said.

Lone demanded the release of former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah and said the party leadership must be allowed to meet these senior leaders to decide the future course of action.

“We must be allowed to see our leaders and they must be released, we will sit down along with other parties to chalk out a joint course of action,” Lone said.

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Guv interacts with SMC councillors

Monitor News Bureau

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SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 11: Governor Satya Pal Malik met the Councillors of Srinagar Municipal Corporation over tea, at Raj Bhawan Auditorium, Srinagar. The Councillors of the SMC were specially invited to Raj Bhawan for an interaction with Governor.

Shri K.K. Sharma, Advisor to the Governor; Shri B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Shri Dheeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary, Housing & Urban Dev. Department; Shri Baseer Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir; Dr. Shahid Iqbal, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar; Shri Khurshid Ahmad Sanai, Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation; and other senior officers of the Housing & Urban Development Department, the Divisional and the District administration were present on the occasion.

Councillors informed Governor about problems being faced by them due to non-availability of communication/internet and also requested for suitable accommodation for them in the city. They also mentioned that the funds are yet to be made available to them in order to reach out to the people and fulfill the mandate given to them.

 

It was informed to the Councillors that during the current financial year, out of earmarked Grant-in-Aid, about Rs. 100.00 crores will be released shortly. Similarly, out of Rs. 500.00 crores to be made available to SMC under the 14th Finance Commission Award, Rs. 86.00 crores has already been made available to the SMC. In addition, 5000 Street Lights is being provided in the city through various Councillors and after agreement, the EESL Corporation of Government of India will start the task of 100% Street Lights of Srinagar city for a period of 7 years. EESL will start the work once the situation will improve in the valley.

Governor announced an additional grant of Rs. 18.50 crores @ Rs. 25.00 lacs per ward to the SMC for developmental works. These works will be executed after the identification by the concerned Councillors.

Governor announced purchase and installation of 7,400 street lights for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation @100 per ward besides transfer of Street Light Division of Srinagar city from the Power Development Department to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

On the issue regarding Indian House Hold Latrines (IHHL), Governor assured that the verification of all the cases, which were pending, will be completed by 30th of September.

Regarding communication problems, Governor informed that 15 internet terminals have been made operational in office of the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, for usage by all the departments including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. He also assured that mobile connectivity will also be restored very soon in J&K.

Governor observed that a delegation of Councillors will be sent outside J&K to study working of the Municipalities in other parts of the country. He advised the them to work devotedly for ensuring development of their Wards and providing uninterrupted basic facilities to people.

Governor noted that Raj Bhavan is open for public and every grievance reaching his office is addressed immediately. Besides, he said, his Advisors are regularly hearing and addressing public’s grievances.

Governor urged the Councillors to work towards making J&K peaceful, progressive and prosperous.

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