From: Associated Press
Published February 9, 2005 12:00 AM

World Bank Chief Says Neutral Expert To Be Appointed in Kashmir Dam Dispute

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The World Bank is set to appoint a neutral expert to arbitrate in a dispute between Pakistan and India over a dam being constructed in Indian-held Kashmir, the bank's president said.


In an interview broadcast Tuesday, James Wolfensohn would not specify how long the arbitration process over the Baglihar Dam -- which has complicated a peace process between the two nuclear rivals -- would take, but said, "it's not going to be years."


Pakistan contends that the dam India is building in the divided Himalayan region would deprive Punjab -- Pakistan's main agricultural province -- of water for irrigation, and violates a World Bank-brokered 1960 treaty on sharing water from the Indus River system.


"My guess is that at the appropriate time, not too far away, a mediator will be appointed ... to assess the facts as presented and then the process will continue and you will get an answer," Wolfensohn told the private Geo television network.


Wolfensohn is currently visiting Pakistan, and held talks Monday with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.


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Islamabad asked the bank last month to appoint a neutral expert to mediate, claiming talks between the nuclear-armed rivals on the dam had failed.


New Delhi said they should hold another round rather than involve a third party, and says it has offered to make design changes to the dam, which Pakistan has rejected.


Both countries, however, have played down the impact of the dam dispute on the fragile, yearlong peace process between Pakistan and India, aimed at resolving five decades of enmity, including their competing territorial claims to Kashmir.


Source: Associated Press


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