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Part of the Water Security in a New World book series (WSEC)


This chapter outlines the volume’s overall content and objectives. It defines the problem of water insecurity in the Indus basin and provides essential background data on the basin’s history, geography, demography, and hydrology. It offers an explanation for the enormous importance of the basin’s water resources to stakeholders at both the state (Afghanistan, China, India, and Pakistan) and sub-state levels, clarifies the relationship between the Kashmir dispute and the waters of the Indus system, supplies an overview of the Indus Waters Treaty, and highlights the geopolitical significance to the international community of the Indus basin’s water resource circumstances. It briefly identifies each chapter’s main focus.


  • Indus basin
  • Water security
  • Water scarcity
  • Water conflict
  • Water cooperation

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Fig. 1.1
Fig. 1.2


  1. 1.

    Among the more useful of many recent studies on the Indus basin’s water resources (and especially on Pakistan’s water crisis) are Indus Basin Working Group, Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, in collaboration with the Observer Research Foundation and the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, 2013), at, retrieved 16 October 2013; Michael Kugelman and Robert M. Hathaway (eds), Running on Empty: Pakistans Water Crisis (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2009), at, retrieved 29 August 2015; Daanish Mustafa, Majed Akhter, and Natalie Nasrullah, Understanding Pakistans Water-Security Nexus (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2013), at, retrieved 29 August 2015; Gitanjali Bakshi and Sahiba Trivedi, The Indus Equation (Mumbai: Strategic Foresight Group, 2011), at, retrieved 29 August 2015; and Muhammed J. M. Cheema and Prakashkiran Pawar, Bridging the Divide: Transboundary Science & Policy Interaction in the Indus Basin (Washington, DC: The Stimson Center, March 2015, at, retrieved 29 August 2015.

  2. 2.

    The most notable among them is the Indian scholar Brahma Chellaney, whose two most recent books offer the most scholarly and compelling arguments to be found in the burgeoning literature of water wars advocacy. See his Water: Asias New Battleground (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011) and Water, Peace, and War: Confronting the Global Water Crisis (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), pp 1–57. For a recent and persuasive argument that defines a position in the ongoing water war debate separate from both the water war and water peace advocacy schools, see the essay by the Crawford School of Public Policy’s Paula Hanasz, Troubled Waters: India and the Hydropolitics of South Asia, Fearless India Occasional Papers on India-Australia Relations, v. 4 (Melbourne: Australia India Institute, Winter 2014).

  3. 3.

    An especially noteworthy recent book that attempts to define what the author calls “the logic of great power conflict” is Christopher Coker, The Improbable War (London: Hurst & Company, 2015). While Coker’s focus is on the possibility of war between China and the USA, the book supplies an unusually perceptive assessment of the logic of war in general.

  4. 4.

    The most recent ranking we know about of the world’s most water-stressed countries places Pakistan 23rd of 167 countries by 2040. This obvious discrepancy is not surprising, since studies differ substantially in terms of the climate models and socioeconomic data adopted by the researchers. For this latest estimate, see Andrew Maddocks, Robert S. Young, and Paul Reig, “Ranking the World’s Most Water-Stressed Countries in 2040” (Washington, DC: World Resources Institute, 26 August 2015), at’s-most-water-stressed-countries, retrieved 4 September 2015.


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Correspondence to Robert G. Wirsing .

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Adeel, Z., Wirsing, R.G. (2017). Introduction. In: Adeel, Z., Wirsing, R. (eds) Imagining Industan. Water Security in a New World. Springer, Cham.

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