ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said it will appreciate a positive US role in reconciliation with India on water issues but stressed that World Bank should not shirk its IWT responsibilities.

This came as US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday, telling him that the US wanted to see an amicable solution on issues relating to Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

Being the broker of this water sharing agreement, it’s the World Bank which has a legitimate dispute resolution role; and if it fails then International Court of Justice is the only venue to get justice.

But the Bank, in a move termed ‘seriously prejudiced’ by Islamabad, has put to a ‘pause’ the formation of a Court of Arbitration on Pakistan’s request to decide the dispute with the neighbouring country over India’s constructing two hydroelectric power plants on rivers flowing into Pakistan.

Kerry told Dar that WB president had recently informed him about Pakistan’s complaints against India regarding IWT, adding his country would like to see the two South Asian states to find an amicable solution, an official statement issued by Islamabad said.

Dar told him that US support on the principles and legal position of Islamabad on Indus Water Treaty will be greatly appreciated. But he told him that IWT was an international commitment and it is the responsibility of the World Bank (WB) to make sure that India honours this treaty so that water rights of hundreds of millions of Pakistanis are protected.

He said that the Court of Arbitration (CoA) is the legal requirement and appointment of the chairman of CoA must be fulfilled by the bank. He added that the WB president had been in touch with him in writing and also on telephone during the current month.

Dar in a letter to WB president had expressed serious concern over the decision of halting the process of empanelment of the CoA Pakistan had sought.

Earlier this week, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said India's violation of the treaty would set a dangerous precedent for other countries to behave similarly, but remained hopeful that India would refrain from such actions.

Earlier, the World Bank Group announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the IWT to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.

The announcement temporarily halted the appointment of a Neutral Expert, as requested by India, and the CoA chairman, as requested by Pakistan.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in a statement said they had done this “to protect the Indus Waters Treaty” and help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests.

"This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time," he said.

Secretary Kerry in his phone talk also appreciated the improvement in economic indicators of Pakistan and congratulated Dar on this achievement.

The finance minister shared with him the latest developments in the economy and the Pakistan Stock Exchange and said that all economic indicators had improved over the last three years. He also said that the government after having achieved macro-economic stability was now focused on achieving higher sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Kerry recalled that his association with Senator Ishaq Dar went back to the days when he was Leader of Opposition in the Senate. The minister warmly acknowledged his association with Secretary Kerry and said that he considered him a friend and supporter of Pakistan and it was always a pleasure to work with him.

The finance minister also congratulated Secretary Kerry on his statement of this week on the Middle East peace process and Palestinian rights.

Dar, Hale meeting

Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale called on Ishaq Dar at the Finance Ministry and discussed the current status of trade and economic ties between Pakistan and the US.

The minister expressed confidence that Pakistan and US would continue to work together for the promotion of bilateral economic relations.

Ambassador Hale said that the US valued its longstanding ties with Pakistan and considered Pakistan an important partner. He acknowledged the economic turnaround Pakistan had achieved over the last three years.

The finance minister emphasised to US envoy that Pakistan was open for foreign investment and said that the US investors should be encouraged to invest in Pakistan.

He highlighted that, according to the World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report, Pakistan had moved up four places in the ease of doing business rankings and was also one of the top 10 global improvers.

The minister said that the European car manufacturer Renault had recently announced its automotive manufacturing plans in Pakistan, with production scheduled to commence in 2018.

He assured his full support for any potential US investors looking to pursue investment opportunities in Pakistan.