ISLAMABAD: Both Pakistan and Afghanistan have utilised Kabul River but lack of an agreement over the water resources could lead to a conflict between the two countries.
This was stated by speakers at a national consultation, ‘Capturing opportunities and managing challenges: cooperating in Kabul River basin for Afghanistan-Pakistan water relations’ organised by Lead Pakistan.
Experts from academia, private sector, government, policymakers and foreigners spoke on the occasion.
They said 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.
They said two major cities of Afghanistan – Kabul and Jalalabad – were entirely dependent on the Kabul River for their water supply needs.
This river is contributing 25 per cent of total freshwater in the country, supports over five million residents of Afghanistan within its basin that is around one sixth of the country’s total population.
Pakistan too has developed the water of Kabul River as it serves the country’s agriculture and limited energy needs.
It 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, 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, said the discourse on water revolved around water security lens.
“Water security has a direct impact on human security. It is a multidimensional challenge with complex undertones and is both an increasing concern as well as critical for sustainable development,” she added.
“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.
The speakers said sharing of water and its management on both sides of the boundary had to be addressed competently and without further deferral. Bedsides, people-to-people contact is the way to build trust between the two countries.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2019