Water conflict management and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan


Managing water resource systems usually involves conflicts. Water recognizes no borders, defining the global geopolitics of water conflicts, cooperation, negotiations, management, and resource development. Negotiations to develop mechanisms for two or more states to share an international watercourse involve complex networks of natural, social and political system (Islam and Susskind, 2013). The Kabul River Basin presents unique circumstances for developing joint agreements for its utilization, rendering moot unproductive discussions of the rights of upstream and downstream states based on principles of absolute territorial sovereignty or absolute territorial integrity (McCaffrey, 2007). This paper analyses the different stages of water conflict transformation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It first examines historical disputes between the upstream and downstream riparians, revolving around contending rights claims, resulting in zero-sum confrontations with one party’s loss as another’s gain, possibly ending in confrontation. The paper then formulates a decision support tool, a mechanism for transforming conflict into cooperation, and concludes by introducing practical methods for identifying basin needs and sharing benefits, enabling riparians to negotiate a win-win process.

  • Citation: Atef, S. S., Sadeqinazhad, F., Farjaad, F., Amatya, D. M. 2019. Water conflict management and cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Journal of Hydrology. 570: 875-892. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.12.075.
  • Keywords: water resources management, transboundary water management, conflict resolution mechanism, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kabul River Basin, decision support tool
  • Posted Date: August 9, 2019
  • Modified Date: August 14, 2019
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.