Shared river basins in disputed territories: A case study of Indus and Brahmaputra

Date01 May 2019
Published date01 May 2019
| World Water Policy. 2019;5:36–42.
© 2019 Policy Studies Organization.
Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Both the Indus and Brahmaputra River Basins originate in China and flow through the disputed terri-
tories of Kashmir and Southern Tibet, respectively. The disputed territory of Southern Tibet has long
been a cause of inter‐state tensions between India and China; whereas the territory of Kashmir is a
long‐drawn out conflict resulting in wars and military skirmishes between India and Pakistan. The
river basins where these disputed territories exist suffer from water scarcity, with pressure intensified
by the dam‐building and water diversion activities of upstream riparian countries. China is an upper
DOI: 10.1002/wwp2.12000
Shared river basins in disputed territories: A case
study of Indus and Brahmaputra
AsmaYaqoob Research Analyst
Institute of Regional Studies, Islamabad,
Asma Yaqoob, Research Analyst, Institute
of Regional Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan.
The present study seeks to explain how the growing water
insecurity in the Brahmaputra and Indus basins has remained
an underexplored factor in delaying peace building along
disputed borders of Southern Tibet and Kashmir. The new
water challenges such as natural flow variation, change in
land use, water quality, and hydropower development posed
by climate variability and domestic compulsions in both
Indus and Brahmaputra have resulted in power competition
for the riparian states. Mutual interests are the single most
peace‐inducing force in the present international order but
could only occur under particular conditions and through a
set of norms. A failure of regional states to engage in institu-
tional rapprochement to ensure water security is indicative
that inter‐state conflicts may flare again especially in the
wake of growing water pressures on shared water resources.
Brahmaputra basin, Indus basin, shared river basins, transboundary water

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