‘Right time to discuss water treaty with Kabul’ | Pakistan Today

‘Right time to discuss water treaty with Kabul’

The time has come to chalk out a plan to help agree a water treaty between Afghanistan and Pakistan to allow the two countries to find a framework that fits both, said water experts at a one-day water conference.
International experts said greater trust and science-based dialogue between the two states can help understand water issues and propose feasible solutions.
Suggestions were made to conduct a capacity audit of water-related institutions. Indus River System Authority (IRSA) was proposed as a possible negotiating forum and it was proposed that an IRSA-like institution be created in Afghanistan to resolve Pakistan-Afghan water issues. The water conference entitled Regional Water Governance: Facing Scarcity, Enhancing Cooperation was organised by Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan and was funded by French Embassy.
The conference was the first in Pakistan which focused on water cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The debate-linked sub-national partnership and prospective scarcity and climate change impacts to regional collaboration on water governance. It highlighted the challenges and practical opportunities for governing resources.
The two sessions of the conference, an exclusive experts roundtable partnerships and scarcity governance and a media event titled ‘Trans-boundary water management: how to foster cooperation?’ were held on Tuesday at a local hotel. The experts included former WAPDA Chairman Shams-ul-Mulk, Water & Power Federal Secretary Ashfaq Mahmood, Chief Planning Commission (Water), Planning & Development division Naseer Gillani, CIRAD France Marcel Kurper, AFD Pakistan Head Nicolas Fornage, Advisor (Climate Affairs), Ministry of Defence Qamar uz Zaman, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), Dr Shahid Ahmad, Specialist IWRN, Planning Commission Zaigham Habib, Hisaar Foundation chairperson Simi Kamal , LEAD Pakistan CEO Ali Tauqeer Sheikh and, and other representatives of national and international organisations.
Speaking to the conference, former WAPDA Chairman Shams ul Mulk said that we need to have people in Pakistan and Afghanistan who say ‘this is our river, not your not mine’. He insisted that in the field of water “sub-optimality is not an option”. Speaking to the conference LEAD Pakistan CEO Ali Tauqeer Sheikh said the water treaty between Pakistan and Afghanistan is necessary to avoid future conflicts. Climate Affairs Advisor Dr Qamar uz Zaman Chaudhry said we need to reassess the 1991 water accord between provinces. He said there was a need to develop think tanks and technical committees to resolve conflicts. Alexandre Taithe, from the French institute Strategic Research Foundation, said there was a possibility to build on climate change-related initiatives to cooperate in the region. Frederic Bessat, from the French Embassy, encouraged the experts to think about a possible “joint, multi-disciplinary, scientific fact-finding working group” on Afghanistan/Pakistan cooperation.
Federal Secretary of Water & Power Ashfaq Mahmood said that it was the right time for Islamabad to sit with Kabul and form a water treaty.

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