Joint dam on Kunar River being mulled
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Dr Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal and his Pakistani counterpart Ishaq Dar have agreed in principle on moving towards joint management of common rivers, starting with construction of a hydropower project on Kunar River, a media report said on Monday.
Kunar River is a major tributary of Kabul River, contributing almost 13 million acres feet (MAF) annually to Pakistan. The issue will be debated on technical and political forums during President Hamid Karzai’s visit, Dawn reported.
A day earlier, the two sides held extensive talks on how to boost bilateral trade and economic relations cooperation. Beginning with cooperation on a 1,500MW hydropower project on Kunar River, the two sides are likely to progress towards the Kabul River Basin Management Commission, the newspaper said.
“The beginning has been very good. Finance Minister Dar raised the issue and Dr Zakhilwal was very positive and forthcoming on joint development of a mega hydropower project,” Dawn quoted unnamed sources as saying.
While encouraging the neighbours to have an institutional arrangement for beneficial sharing of common waters, the World Bank has offered finances and services as an ‘honest broker’ for joint water management under a bilateral treaty.
At Sunday's meeting, the finance ministers agreed on cooperation in areas of communications, railways, the Afghan transit trade agreement and the power sector. The need for a double taxation treaty for encouraging private sector investment was also discussed.
Zakhilwal hailed the proposal as positive and said Pakistani construction companies had experience in undertaking huge infrastructure projects, which should be utilised by the firms to avail the opportunity to work in Afghanistan.
The two sides agreed to hold a meeting of the Joint Economic Commission in Kabul in October to review the implementation status of the decisions and to explore new avenues to enhance economic cooperation.
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