Scale interactions in transboundary water governance of Indus river


  • Tahira Syed Interdisciplinary Doctorate Program in Water Diplomacy | Tufts University
  • Enamul Choudhury School of Public and International Affairs | Wright State University


scale, transboundary water governance, cooperation, conflict, TWINS


Rivers cross political boundaries where water issues cut across national, subnational, and sector
boundaries. We hold that addressing the scaled nature of interactions between stakeholders is
a helpful way to account for the complexity of transboundary water governance and the design
of governing institutions. We argue that identifying stakeholder interactions at different scales of
governance is a key to understand the shifts in the nature and degrees of cooperation and conflict.
Using the TWINS framework, this shifting pattern is studied in the part of Indus basin that is
within Pakistan. We use historical event data from the Pakistan side of the Indus basin to show
the key events of cooperation and conflict at regional, national and sub-national scales. We find
varying degrees of cooperation and conflict at different scales. We show that without recognizing
scale-based interactions among riparians, the nature and depth of conflict and cooperation among
all stakeholders remains obscured in the superficial understanding of cooperation as the official
version holds. We argue that a contingent approach to study cooperation and conflict at multiple
scales and among multiple stakeholders is needed to assess the true nature and degree of cooperation
and the ensuing effectiveness of transboundary governance structures.


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How to Cite

Syed, T., & Choudhury, E. (2018). Scale interactions in transboundary water governance of Indus river. International Journal of Water Governance, 6, 64–84. Retrieved from



Research Article

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