February 12, 2007Foreign Affairs

The dam difference is over

Both India and Pakistan claim victory over the Indus water sharing issue.

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Jagadish was right. Professor Raymond Lafitte’s solution allowed both India and Pakistan to claim that they had won. Pakistan gets boasting rights for three of its four objections were upheld by the World Bank appointed neutral expert. India gets to, essentially, carry on with building the dam.

Pakistani politicians, like Liaqat Jatoi, the power minister, now have the happy job of explaining how they beat India in such delightful areas as freeboard height, pondage and elevation of intakes for turbines. The Pakistani foreign office has declared that Pakistan will abide by Prof Lafitte’s verdict, declaring it binding. But lest anyone think that it is really ending one of its disputes with India, Jatoi has declared that Pakistan reserves the right to challenge the expert’s decision on the fourth issue—the placement of the spillway gates.

India’s Press Information Bureau declares that the neutral expert has cleared the dam, agreeing with the contention that Baglihar is a run of the river’ project. The three changes required by the neutral expert, the official press release states, are marginal’ and arise from calculations’ not basic principles’. For good measure, it says that the 1.5m reduction in height the expert required had been offered by India in the spirit of good neighbourly relations…even before the process of Expert Determination had started.”

Pakistan’s differences have now been laid to rest. Unless, of course, its foreign office issues a clarification stating what it really meant was that the verdict is binding on India, but Pakistan reserves the right to challenge the expert’s decision. In that case, the Indus Waters Treaty (see: Sharing the Indus) enters a grey zone and

then the difference becomes a dispute, and the matter goes to a court of arbitration. The problem is, it is not clear which one. [Those dam sluices]

Update: Ramaswamy Iyer has the details of the neutral expert’s findings

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