A senior Iranian lawmaker has accused the ruling Taliban government in Afghanistan of blatantly violating the water rights of Iranian people over their shared Hirmand (Helmand) River.
“The Taliban have blatantly and deliberately stopped the water of Hirmand River from flowing towards Iran. They claim the river has no water but facts on the ground indicate that it has sufficient water,” Shahriar Heidari, the deputy head of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told Iran Daily.
He urged the Taliban to supply Iran with its share of water from the river.
Iran and the Taliban are engaged in a dispute over water share from the Hirmand River, which is known as Helmand in Afghanistan.
Hirmand is the longest watercourse in Afghanistan which originates in the Afghan Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul. It flows in an arc southwest until it empties out into the Hamoun wetlands in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.
Iran has always stressed the importance of the implementation of the 1973 Helmand River Treaty between the two countries, which envisions shared water resources. Earlier this month, Iran’s president warned the Taliban against violating the country’s water rights.
“Iran will not allow the rights of its people to be violated… I tell the Afghan rulers to take my remarks seriously. I warn the authorities and rulers of Afghanistan to swiftly fulfill the rights of the people of Sistan and Baluchestan Province and the Sistan region,” Ebrahim Raeisi said during a trip to Sistan and Baluchestan on May 18.
Referring to Raeisi’s comments, Heidari said the Iranian president issued the warning because Iranian officials realized that the Taliban had intentionally prevented the flow of water towards Iran.
“Before the president issued the warning, the ministries of foreign affairs and energy were tasked with pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels. But it seems that the Taliban do not understand the language of diplomacy,” the lawmaker added.
Heidari said the international community does not recognize the Taliban because they do not comply with international norms and regulations.
He said Iran will follow up the case through international channels. The MP, however, warned that Iran will take full action to defend its water rights if diplomatic efforts fail.
“Sometimes it is essential to resort to force in the face of lawlessness,” Heidari pointed out. He stressed that Iran’s water share from the Hirmand River pertains to the nation’s inalienable rights.