‘World Bank cannot interpret Indus Water Treaty (IWT) for us’, says India
Attribution: Kmhkmh, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

India has reiterated that the World Bank cannot interpret provisions of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan. India’s assessment or interpretation of the Treaty is of a step-by-step graded approach for rectification of any breach of the Teaty.

This clarification came in the context of ongoing proceedings in the Court of Arbitration in Hague on ‘Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan’ that India is not attending and has boycotted.  

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Instead, for rectification of ongoing breach of the treaty, India’s Indus Commissioner issued a notice to his Pakistani counterpart last week on 25th January 2023 for modification of the Treaty of 1960. This notice was issued to provide Pakistan an opportunity to enter into government-to-government negotiations. India asked for a suitable date for the commencement of Interstate bilateral negotiations under Article 12 (3) of the treaty within 90 days. Clearly, India’s notification of 25th January 2023 was to Pakistan and not to the World Bank. 

Thus, currently, two parallel processes of rectification of breach of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) are underway. One, in the Court of Arbitration in Hague initiated by the World Bank following request from Pakistan. India is not participating in this process and has boycotted this. Second, the government-to-government bilateral negotiations under Article 12 (3) of the treaty. India initiated this last week on 25th January.  

Both the two processes are under relevant provisions of the treaty however India’s interpretation of the treaty is of step-by-step process or graded mechanism of dispute resolution between the two countries. Towards this, India has already issued notice to Pakistan for bilateral negotiations.  

Pakistan, on the other hand, requested World Bank for a direct arbitration which the world Bank conceded and the proceedings are underway.  

Obviously, having two parallel processes of resolution of disputes between two countries will be problematic. This was acknowledged by World Bank itself few years ago.  

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960 is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan to use the water available in the Indus River and its tributaries.

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