Towards Kabul Water Treaty: Water Cooperation for Managing Shared Water Resources – Policy Issues and Options

This paper is about Pakistan’s historic rights to transboundary water resources in Afghanistan. Triggered by the potential impact of transboundary water infrastructural projects in Afghanistan on the flow of water to Pakistan, the paper underlines the need for a water treaty between the two countries, as the option most beneficial to Pakistan. While the paper makes note of climate change and its impact on water flow, it considers increased use of water in Afghanistan as a factor affecting water flow to Pakistan.

Depicting severe transboundary water conflicts between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the future, the paper considers any new water development in Afghanistan to have severe impacts on Pakistan’s right to water. The paper states that while water infrastructure development in Afghanistan will mitigate floods, control droughts, increase country’s storage capacity and improve irrigation efficiency, and thus help Afghanistan’s social and economic development, it will also affect transboundary water flow and thus relations with Pakistan.

The paper recommends creating political will, increasing people’s participation, using regional platforms such as Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) for hydro diplomacy, creating transparent and shared repository of hydrological data, establishing a regional river basin management commission, encouraging academic and scientific exchanges and delinking transboundary water discussions from other political tensions, all aimed at a water treaty between Afghanistan and Pakistan using the principles of International Water Law.

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