Mustafa, Daanish. 2022. Contested Waters: Sub-national Scale Water and Conflict in Pakistan. New Yord: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9780755635238 (Paperback US$36/ebook US$29).
Asad Sarwar Qureshi
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
To cite this Review: Qureshi, A.S. (2022). Contested Waters: Sub-national Scale Water and Conflict in Pakistan, Bloomsbury 2022, by D. Mustafa, Water Alternatives, http://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/boh/item/299-contested.
Transboundary water allocations, equitable distribution, and uses in different sectors are sensitive and complex issues in Pakistan. It is rightly so because more than 80% of the available water resources are used for agriculture, a lifeline for the millions of rural poor in this country. The socio-political and institutional aspects of water management in Pakistan are usually neglected in water debates. Interestingly, this book meticulously analyzes the hydropolitics in the Indus Basin at different scales. The book has reviews the contentious issues of large dams, flood management, irrigation water allocation and distribution among provinces, and urban supplies to big cities. The book argues that despite technical advances, Pakistan's water management decisions and conflicts are driven mainly by regional, local, and even village-level socio-political and cultural environments. The book calls, instead, for a holistic basin-scale approach to improve the productivity of water use in the Indus Basin but including some practical examples of where this approach has helped solve basin management problems would be handy. Adressing groundwater issues would also demand a well-thought-out, pragmatic, and consistent strategy for sustainable aquifer management. The book argues that differences in opinion around controversial issues (such as the building of the Kalabagh dam) creates conflicts and that it is important to establish political dialogue between communities to resolve these. The book is well-written and based on solid arguments. It will help readers to understand the water-related issues and conflicts in Pakistan, beyond technicalities