The original version of this article, by Michael Kugelman, Ahmad Rafay Alam, and Gitanjali Bakshi, appeared on Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel
Pakistan is once again accusing India
of water hegemony. This time, however, the accusation refers not to Indian damming of the Western Rivers in the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir, but to Indian support for Afghan development projects along the Kabul River. This accusation indulges in conspiratorial thinking, and distracts from a factual understanding of the water issues between the two countries.
According to Pakistani media reports, Afghanistan (with assistance from India and the World Bank) has plans to build 12 dams on the Kabul River (a tributary of the Indus which runs through Afghanistan and Pakistan), with a combined storage capacity of 4.7 million acre feet (MAF). Pakistan is concerned that these dams will stop crucial water supply from flowing to the Indus River. It is also concerned that Indian support for these dams will increase India’s sphere of influence over water issues in the region.
India has not confirmed its support to build all 12 Afghan dams on the Kabul River, though it is currently one of Afghanistan’s largest assistance donors; Afghan media report that India has $1.3 billion invested in infrastructure projects. Water infrastructure, including dam building, is an integral part of Afghanistan’s 2008 Development Agenda.
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Sources: The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, The News International, Pakistan Defence.
Photo Credit: “Ferry Across the River,” courtesy of flickr user peretzp (Peretz Partensky).