November 9, 2006Foreign Affairs

Those dam sluices

Professor Lafitte has a solution to the Baglihar dam question. Don’t ask who won, though

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Swiss neutrality, Jagadish writes, has come to the fore. Raymond Lafitte, the Swiss technical expert appointed by the World Bank to arbitrate in their difference over the Baglihar dam has (almost) decided a way out that allows both India and Pakistan to claim that they won or that the other side lost. It also allows the oppositions to allege, well, the opposite.

The giving and the taking involves changing the height of the dam (and address Pakistan’s concerns) and the placement of the sluices (to India’s satisfaction). If the two countries accept this settlement, and Pakistan says it will, Prof Lafitte can return to Switzerland a happy man. If they don’t, then the difference becomes a dispute, and the matter goes to a court of arbitration. The problem is, it is not clear which one.

The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 itself came about because the two countries agreed to isolate the issue from other bilateral disputes, and long served as a singular example of what Pakistan can do for itself if it sets aside its fixation with Kashmir. It would do well to follow the winning formula and accept Lafitte’s formula. It would be in India’s interests to accept the settlement. Because it can get on with the dam, and also because the precedent may come in useful in future.

Related Post: What the hoo-haa over Baglihar is all about.



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