KABUL (Agencies): The Afghan Taliban’s recent announcement of plans to construct a hydroelectric dam on the Kunar River in eastern Afghanistan has raised apprehensions in neighboring Pakistan.
According to a spokesperson for the Taliban’s Water and Energy Ministry, Matiullah Abid, the project’s survey and design have been completed, and construction will commence when funds become available.
Reacting to the unilateral decision, a provincial minister in Pakistan, Jan Achakzai, deemed it a hostile act and warned of potentially severe consequences, including escalating tensions and conflict.
The Kunar River, originating in the Hindu Kush mountains, merges with the Kabul River before flowing into Pakistan, serving as a crucial source of fresh water for the country.
The absence of a bilateral water-sharing agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan has historically led to disputes over dam construction projects that could impact water flow.
Despite concerns raised by Pakistani officials, experts argue that the Taliban may lack the technical expertise and finances for such a project.
Afghan water-management expert Najib Aqa Fahim stated, “Constructing dams requires technical know-how, a robust supply chain, and a lot of money.” Another expert, Najibullah Sadid, downplayed the potential impact, noting that the dam is relatively small and intended for electricity generation rather than significantly altering water flows to Pakistan.
The Afghan Taliban’s hydropower ambitions could further strain relations between the group and Pakistan, already experiencing tensions due to the Taliban’s alleged sheltering of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The discord has resulted in pressure tactics from Pakistan, including the expulsion of Afghan refugees, border closures, and blockades of Afghan transit goods in recent months.