Talks between India and Pakistan on the controversial Kishanganga dam project have failed, and Pakistan is now likely to move to international arbitration.

Pakistan says that the Indian-built Kishanganga breaks the 1960 Indus Basin treaty, drawn up to provide a fair management of the neighbours’ shared waters. The country claims that, if completed, a tunnel from the Kishanganga to the Wuller lake will leave it facing a 27% water deficit. Pakistan is also worried about the impact this will have on its 969MW Neelum-Jhelum hydro power plant.

According to Pakistan’s Commissioner on the Indus Basin Treaty Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, who returned on Monday from talks in India on the issue, attempts to resolve the disagreement have ended in total failure, at least at the commission level. He added that Islamabad could still take it up with Delhi at a government level before approaching the World Bank for mediation.

Shah says that Pakistan must now resort to legal proceedings under the Article 9/2 of the Indus Basin treaty – which allows the intervention of the court of arbitration.

The situation is similar to the still-ongoing Baglihar dam affair, which went to the World Bank, original arbitrators of the Indus Basin treaty, who appointed neutral expert Raymond Lafitte to inspect the site.

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