India’s Controversial Afghanistan Dams

India is expected to begin work on the $236 million Shahtoot Dam project on the Kabul River in Afghanistan in the coming weeks. Scheduled to be completed in three years, the dam has evoked concern in the lower riparian country, Pakistan. In addition to reducing water flow into Pakistan, the project could erode already fraying relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Simultaneously, the project, which is expected to “bring economic prosperity” to Afghans, will “pump up” Afghanistan’s ties with India, Khan Wali Khan Basharmal, technical deputy to the Administrative Office of the President of Afghanistan, told The Diplomat.

The 700-km-long Kabul River originates in the Hindu Kush Mountains in central Afghanistan. It flows eastward past the Afghan cities of Kabul, Surobhi, and Jalalabad. East of Jalalabad, it is joined by its main tributary, the Kunar River, which originates in Pakistan, where it is known as the River Chitral. Afghanistan and Pakistan are thus upstream and downstream basin states with regard to the Kabul River.

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