After disagreements with India over the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan and Afghanistan are locked into another water dispute. According to experts, Pakistan-Afghanistan relations can be improved via a benefit-sharing agreement for management of the Kabul river. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan need an agreement to avoid future conflicts.
The speakers participating at a national conference organized by Lead Pakistan expressed their views on Afghanistan -Pakistan water relations. The theme of the consultation was ‘Capturing opportunities and managing challenges: cooperating in Kabul River basin for Afghanistan-Pakistan water relations’.
Experts from academia, the private sector, government, policymakers, and foreigners spoke expressed their views saying, “the war was a curse and there’s a dire need to overcome trust deficit between Pakistan and Afghanistan since there would be a cost and consequences of noncooperation. The two major cities of Afghanistan – Kabul, and Jalalabad – were entirely dependent on the Kabul River for their water supply needs”.
The speakers said sharing of water and its management on both sides of the boundary need to be addressed effectively via people-to-people contact.
This Kabul river supports over five million residents of Afghanistan within its basin that is around one-sixth of the country’s total population and also contributing 25 percent of total freshwater in the country. The Kabul river also acts as a major tributary of the Indus River and is considered as a vital source of water supply in early Kharif season in Sindh.
Khalid Mohtadullah, the senior water expert, said:” Pakistan must explore opportunities to develop a benefit-sharing agreement with Afghanistan for an integrated basin-wide approach to the management of the Kabul River.”
Simi Kamal, grants operations, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, emphasised saying, “Water security has a direct impact on human security. It is a multi-dimensional challenge with complex undertones and is both an increasing concern as well as critical for sustainable development.”
“Water demand is a serious challenge in Pakistan and Afghanistan and there is a dire need for the two governments to undertake swift action to protect their water resources,” said Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, the head of Lead Pakistan.
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