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US facilitating Pak-Afghan talks on bilateral water treaty

Islamabad , Wed, 20 Apr 2011 ANI

Islamabad, April 20(ANI): The United States is facilitating initial talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan on a bilateral water treaty as part of its efforts for trilateral water cooperation, according to informed sources.


US-led international organisations are currently engaged in Afghanistan under a 'donor-funded Afghan Rebuild Programme' for the assessment of the current situation, the strategy development for short and long-term water sector projects and the rehabilitation of irrigation system in the war-torn country.


The US is also working with multilateral lenders to help Pakistan prepare a long-term water sector strategy, the creation of a water council and a water regulatory body for better management of water resources, the Dawn reports.


A separate US-Pak water working group is also in place under the strategic dialogue process, and according to diplomatic sources, this group held a meeting early this month in Islamabad.


The meeting specifically discussed the USAID-funded projects- particularly with reference to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's signature programme for water sector reforms in Pakistan- and set the agenda for next water working group meeting and support for Afghanistan-Pakistan-US cooperation on water resources.


The US interest in facilitating the two countries is that acrimony may emerge between both nations with improved utilisation of water in Afghanistan at a later stage, sources said.


The US, therefore, feels the need for a mechanism in place at this stage to ward off such disputes in future, and instead having a joint system in place for long-term benefit of both countries, they added.


Officials said Pakistan and Afghanistan share nine rivers with an average annual river flow of about 18.3 million acres of feet (MAF). Kabul River alone has water flows of 16.5 MAF, in which River Chitral, originating from Pakistan, contributes about 8.5 MAF.


After entry into Afghanistan, this is called River Kunar, which joins the Kabul River near Jalalabad and then re-enters the Warsak dam in Pakistan.


Pakistan's concern is that India, as part of international lenders in Afghanistan, could gain more influence over its water sector from the western side. (ANI)


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