US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, has said that his country would provide funds for construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam, a project in the first round of construction on the River Indus in Diamer, Gilgit-Baltistan.
Mr. Olson made the comments during an interview with Pakistan’s state-owned TV channel. The US ambassador said Washington intends to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis. He also vowed to introduce innovative means to solve Pakistan’s energy shortage.
Olson also said the project would produce environment-friendly electricity for Pakistan and help the country’s agriculture sector.
It is pertinent to mention here that in July this year, the US sanctioned a funding for validating the viability and geological studies of the $14-billion Diamer Bhasha Dam. The development was seen as the first tangible assistance from the US for the long stalled project.
The previous month, Pakistan’s Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, claimed that he has persuaded the World Bank to provide funds for construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. The World Bank had been averse to fund the dam’s construction and had set out the condition for Pakistan to secure NOC from India if it wanted funding from the bank.
The Asian Development Bank had also made the commitment to become the pilot financer for construction of the dam.
Experts say that upon completion, the Diamer-Bhasha Dam would generate about 4,500 megawatts of hydropower. The dam would also store an additional 8,500,000 acre feet of water for Pakistan besides extending the life of the downstream Tarbela Dam and controlling potential flooding in the River Indus.
Some analysts view the US interest and investments in Gilgit-Baltistan as a move to counter China’s growing presence and influence in GB and Kashmir. It should be noted that China is currently involved in dozens of power and infrastructure projects throughout Pakistan – more calculatingly in GB and Kashmir. India has voiced its concerns several times over the growing Chinese presence in the region, which it considers a disputed territory.