Stoking Tensions in an Already Volatile Region

By Sana Ali

Sana Ali is a South Asia Fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington, DC. She has a background in diplomacy and media. Sana is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and tweets at @sanaali_.

South Asia’s critical transboundary waterways are facing unprecedented pressures as a result of rapidly increasing populations, high demand for natural resources, and the consequences of climate change. These challenges, combined with ineffective and wasteful governmental management, are intensifying water scarcity conditions and stoking tensions in an already volatile region.

The current situation is set to severely worsen unless collective action is taken, particularly by Pakistan and India. While both nations have made some progress in the areas of trade and energy, the necessary cooperation on water and climate concerns lag behind. Current geopolitical stressors and a historic rivalry have led the two countries to approach water and climate concerns from a firmly securitized vantage point and mark key hydrological data as secret and classified.

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