The Politics of Water Security in the Kabul River Basin

This paper is about the simmering water conflict between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the need to seek formalized bilateral cooperation for technical information exchanges, flow monitoring and water planning, following the Indus Water Treaty example, due to geographical and cultural proximity, similarity of political relations between the two countries and nature of riparian relations.

The paper encourages both states to adopt an apolitical approach to talks related to transboundary water issues and delink water discussions from other bilateral political tensions. Pointing to the length of time the Indus Water Treaty negotiations took (12 years), the author encourages farsighted approach and a spirit of statesmanship on both sides, and underlines the need for a third party mediator such as the World Bank.

The paper recommends studying water consumption in the Kabul River basin, recharge into groundwater and future demand for agricultural and economic development, implementing greater efficiency of water usage in Afghanistan, which cannot be done without accurate and up-to-date hydrological data, designing and managing climate change adaptation measures to avoid negative transboundary impacts and to generate the best possible benefit for the whole river basin. The author stresses the time factor, calling for attention to this issue before a serious regional water crisis kicks in.

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