IWT: Crisis Management System

Notwithstanding occasional calls for its abrogation, the Indus Water Treaty that governs water sharing system of the Indus basin rivers between India and Pakistan has withstood all tensions and wars since 1960. It might be a factor for limiting Kashmir’s potential to exploit its water resources but it definitely has inbuilt mechanism to manage the problems between New Delhi and Islamabad. A Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) comprising of Indus Commissioners from India and Pakistan oversee the implementation of the treaty.
The treaty has three categories of ‘conflict’ and offers mechanism for resolving them as well. The first category is classified as “questions” in which either side can question the details of a particular project that is being set up by the other side. Issues emanating under this category are settled at the level of the PIC.
 There have been a series of ‘questions’ that the PIC has settled so far. The most important of them is the Tulbul Navigation Lock that Islamabad terms the Wullar Barrage. Apparently the issue is dead but occasionally authorities in Delhi and Srinagar raise it. But this ‘question’ has never gone beyond the PIC. Exchanging details of the projects by either side and even visiting them to find out the exact details is a continuous exercise of the Indus Commissioners from the two countries. Islamabad has certain questions over the Uri-II and Chutak projects in J&K but were resolved at the PIC level only.
 “Differences” are the second category of the conflicts in which the PIC fails to settle. The difference, under the treaty is referred to a neutral expert that the World Bank appoints. It has also happened successfully when Islamabad took its ‘differences’ over the Baglihar project to the WB. The verdict came in February 2007 and the two sides accepted it.
The third category of conflicts under the treaty is “dispute” and Kishanganga power project would be the first instance of this category of problems to be tackled. It involves an international  court of arbitration that comprises of seven experts. Of them two each are nominees of the two countries and three are either selected by consensus or selected through a system of lottery amongst officials designated by the two treaty.

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