The World Bank on Thursday asked
India and Pakistan to “agree to mediation” in order to settle on a
mechanism for how the Indus Waters Treaty should be used to resolve issues
regarding two dams under construction along the Indus river system.

The World Bank’s move came as
it told the two countries that it was responding to their separate proceedings
initiated under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

Simultaneously, the World
Bank held a draw of lots to determine who will appoint three umpires to sit on
the Court of Arbitration that Pakistan has requested.

The draw of lots was held at
the World Bank headquarters here.

“The World Bank Group
has a strictly procedural role under the Indus Waters Treaty and the treaty
does not allow it to choose whether one procedure should take precedence over
the other. This is why we drew the lots and proposed potential candidates for
the Neutral Expert on Thursday,” said Senior Vice President and World Bank Group
General Counsel Anne-Marie Leroy.

“What is clear, though, is
that pursuing two concurrent processes under the treaty could make it
unworkable over time and we therefore urge both parties to agree to mediation
that the World Bank Group can help arrange.

“The two countries can
also agree to suspend the two processes during the mediation process or at any
time until the processes are concluded,” Leroy said.

The Bank said the Indus
Waters Treaty 1960 is seen as one of the most successful international treaties
and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including
conflict.

The Bank is a signatory to
the Treaty.

The Treaty sets out a
mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries
regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission
which includes a commissioner from each of the two countries.

It also sets out a process
for resolving so-called “questions”, “differences” and
“disputes” that may arise between the parties.

The current proceedings under
the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts)
hydroelectric power plants.

The power plants are being
built by India on Kishenganga and Chenab Rivers.

Neither of the two plants are
being financed by the World Bank Group.