The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) dismissed India’s objections regarding the legitimacy of arbitration to address the ongoing Indus River disputes between India and Pakistan on Thursday. Consequently, the court has reinstated a previously stalled procedure that had been impeded for a considerable number of years.
Pakistan asserts that India’s proposed hydroelectric energy projects will substantially diminish the Indus’ flow, negatively affecting Pakistani agriculture. Pakistan initiated legal proceedings against India in 2016, seeking arbitration to address the issue.
India raised objections regarding the jurisdiction of the PCA and the legality of assessments conducted while a “neutral expert” examines the case. India contended that the inclusion of an arbitral tribunal was inherently improper, since a “neutral expert” had not yet determined that there was a dispute between India and Pakistan requiring arbitration.
The court dismissed India’s objection, ruling that a neutral expert’s opinion was not necessary to declare the existence of a dispute.
In 1960, Pakistan and India entered into the Indus Water Treaty, which continues to be the subject of numerous disputes. India maintains its stance that the treaty does not prohibit hydroelectric construction. At the same time, Pakistan asserts that such actions fundamentally contradict the essence and intent of the treaty by altering the river’s flow.
Pakistan harbors concerns not only regarding the construction of energy-generating structures but also the potential for manipulation by India. A notable instance occurred in 2019 when India redirected substantial volumes of river flow solely to Indian states, thereby obstructing Pakistan’s access to the shared water resources.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration has refrained from delineating the precise course of action for the proceedings.