Br-epaper – water disputes electricity distribution companies

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Responding to media queries during his weekly briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal rejected the impression that Pakistan did not proactively pursue the controversial 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydrop-ower project at all levels.

The spokesperson further said that Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali led a delegation to the World Bank for a two-day meeting to discuss the issues related to the Kishanganga hydropower project and Ratle hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty.

He said the attorney general regretted Indian attempts to make the Indus Waters Treaty dysfunctional, saying inauguration of the Kishanganga hydropower project by India is flagrant disregard for the commitments of the government of India with the World Bank and in utter violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

He said the attorney general emphasized that waters of the Indus and its tributaries are the lifeline of more than 200 million people of Pakistan. “It was not just an issue of water, but a definite human rights issue. The Indian attempts to dis-empower the IWT, have gravely damaged the environment,” he said.

He said that the agriculture of the country, which is its backbone, is also being adversely affected. He said that Pakistani delegation to the Bank had been instructed directly by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to effectively highlight the very serious implications of Indian intransigence and its disregard for international law, especially the Indus Waters Treaty, for the people and government of Pakistan.

He said that the attorney general reminded the Bank of its obligations and emphasized the need to abide by its commitments. The delegation stressed the need to revisit the design and impact of Kishanganga hydropower project, he said, adding that the attorney general also urged the US government to actively support the Bank in resolving the Kishanganga hydropower project and Ratle hydroelectric project issue within the ambit of the Treaty.

Despite several rounds of bilateral negotiations as well as mediation under the auspices of the World Bank, he said, India continued with the construction of the project. “This intransigence by India has made the IWT dysfunctional. Pakistan urged the Bank to raise this violation of the IWT with India and bring an end to the impasse,” he said, adding that Pakistan reiterated that as the custodian of the IWT, the World Bank should urge India to address Pakistan’s reservations on Kishanganga hydropower project.

“Pakistan believes that such disputes must be resolved through IWT, as have been in the past, and that the arbitration mechanism must be empowered to take impartial decisions…Water disputes with India carry the potential to escalate into full-scale conflict between both sides,” he warned.

About India’s first life-extension test of BrahMos missiles, he said that Pakistan wants to have a peaceful neighborhood where all countries can focus on meeting the socio-economic needs of their people, rather than squandering their resources on a futile arms race and acquiring destabilizing weapon systems and technologies.

“While Pakistan will not be oblivious to the imperative of safeguarding its national security, we remain a strong proponent of mutually agreed measures for restraint and confidence building,” he said, adding that towards this objective, Pakistan has put forward several proposals which remain on the table.

To a question about the new book “Spy Chronicles”, jointly authored by former DG ISI Asad Durrani and former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief AS Dulat, the spokesperson declined to comment on the revelations made in the book, saying, “I have yet to see and read the book, after which I might be able to respond.”

About the alleged harassment of the US diplomats, he said that the Foreign Office has not received any specific complaint from the US side after establishment of the mechanism to resolve the issue on treatment of the US diplomats in Pakistan.

Moreover, he added that the US had suspended the security related assistance to Pakistan earlier this year, including the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements. “We believe, and the fact has been frequently acknowledged by the US officials also, that the security related assistance served the mutual interest of stability in the region,” he said.

He asserted that Pakistan’s counterterrorism operations in FATA and clearing of this territory from all sorts of terrorist networks is a testimony that the US assistance for capacity building of Pakistan’s law enforcement and security agencies has helped in achieving the shared objective of stability and peace in the region.

To another question about the capacity of the upcoming caretaker government to pursue Pakistan’s case in the FATF, he said that interim government will be equally functional and equipped to deal with all issues. “There will be no change in Pakistan’s negotiations and implementation of the Action Plan. We are a responsible state,” he added.

About the killing of five people working on the TAPI pipeline project in southern Kandahar, he said that Pakistan believes that TAPI (Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India) pipeline is a hallmark project for addressing the energy needs of the region, adding that Pakistan attaches great value to this project.