Transboundary Basin Management under conditions of Latent Conflict: A Multi-Sectoral and Multi-Disciplinary Approach towards the Kabul River Basin

This paper hopes that engagement with the nuances of transboundary basin management between Pakistan and Afghanistan starts a drastic and dramatic expansion of stakeholders: an expansion that leads to the equitable distribution of water-related benefits and to a future without conflict – latent or otherwise.


Taking stock of existing perspectives on how the two countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan should engage with their shared waters, the authors of this study propose that besides facilitation of long term transboundary basin partnership initiatives, there is need to foster inter-state diplomacy and peace building by expanding the concept of water sharing to the sharing of cross-sectoral benefits of water utilization. The authors further add that ‘bridging social capital’ through benefit-sharing in the areas of water, energy, and food is not only possible but is perhaps a lot easier in the Kabul River Basin than in other transboundary basins.


This approach is contextualized within a hybrid framework that draws from both ‘conflict resolution’ and ‘conflict transformation’ frameworks, and reserves a significant role for non-state, sub-state, and civil society stakeholders in peace-building. The key proposition in this study is that if the transboundary basin management discourse about the Kabul River Basin can be changed from water-sharing to benefit-sharing across the water, food, and energy sectors, the social conditions and political will needed for long-term state-to-state engagement can be created without jeopardizing the lives and livelihoods of basin-dependent communities during the intervening period.

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