Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

The Hindu Kush region extends across Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are connected by the Hindu Kush mountain range. The SDC concluded its activities in Pakistan at the end of 2019 . Its assistance mainly covers water use and the strengthening of state structures and human rights. In Afghanistan, Switzerland works to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights, agricultural development, sustainable resource management and basic education.

Map of the region Hindu Kush (Afghanistan, Pakistan)

Switzerland's activities in Afghanistan

The political situation in Pakistan has improved and stabilised markedly in recent years, however it is still volatile and the security situation requires particular attention. Weak rule of law, impunity, socio-economic inequalities, flows of refugees and internally displaced persons, frequent natural disasters as well as ethnic and religious tensions heighten instability, placing significant burdens on the local population.

Switzerland promotes the rule of law and good governance, respect for human rights and the improvement of living conditions for disadvantaged communities, particularly in rural areas.

The SDC works with a number of partners, including national, regional and local authorities, international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), other donor countries, and national and international NGOs.

End of 2019: SDC bilateral activities in Pakistan to close

The SDC has been active in Pakistan since 1966. In 2008, the Federal Council decided that Pakistan was no longer a priority country for bilateral development cooperation.

However, a reduced presence was maintained in the border region with Afghanistan to help counter the fragility in that area.  The SDC therefore focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, including the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018.

In 2016, the SDC decided to initiate a full cessation of operations in Pakistan by 2022.  Parliament decided in 2017 to reduce the international cooperation budget by CHF 150 million within the context of the 2017–19 stabilisation programme.  Because of this, activities implemented by the SDC's South Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid departments in Pakistan are to be brought to a close earlier than expected. All operations will cease at the end of 2019, followed by administrative and financial closure in mid-2020.

However, Swiss Humanitarian Aid may still take action in the event of a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.

Responsible and efficient use of water resources

Water resources are coming under increasing pressure, jeopardising the already fragile social cohesion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  Switzerland assists Pakistan in its efforts to improve water management at a regional and local level.  The aim of these initiatives is to prevent conflicts over access to water (quality and quantity), enable more efficient use of water resources and mitigate the adverse effects of extreme hydrological events.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Improving access to drinking water
  • Establishing, developing and maintaining irrigation systems in agriculture
  • Sharing technical know-how on preventing and managing water-related disasters
  • Setting up water user associations


Establishing structures at local level and promoting human rights

Switzerland is committed to building trust between citizens and the regional authorities.  In addition to basic services for everyone, Switzerland promotes democratic, transparent and accountable local governance, enhanced protection of human rights and political reforms.

The SDC has the following specific objectives:

  • Strengthening the rule of law
  • Reinforcing capacities in the fields of justice, police and mutual legal assistance systems
  • Introducing new dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Protecting internally displaced persons and Afghan refugees

Advocacy and good governance

Current projects

Object 13 – 16 of 16

Support to Disaster Management Authorities for the protection of population affected by the military operations in North Waziristan

01.10.2014 - 31.12.2019

Pakistani military operation against militants in North Waziristan Agency on Pakistani/Afghan border, has displaced over half a million people. Their temporary settlement in the neighbouring regions constitutes a challenge for the hosting population and authorities. SDC will enhance instituational capacity of the Disaster Management Authorities to fullfil their manadates to the protection of IDPs and and building resilience of the communities. It will enable the authorities to better handle challenges posed by conflict and recurring natural disasters.

Water for Livelihoods (W4L) – Phase II

01.01.2014 - 29.02.2020

The project promotes equitable water governance for food and people in over 300 villages in semi-arid watercatchment areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK). When organized in water user organizations, approximately 35-45% of households in the targeted districts will use water more carefully within revised frame conditions. These are jointly reformed with local governments and contribute to solving water conflicts more efficiently and peacefully.

Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF)

01.12.2013 - 31.12.2020

The MDTF aims to reduce the socio-economic marginalisation of people, with focus on women, religious minorities and internally displaced people, in the Pakistan border regions to Afghanistan; the fund will contribute to state-building in the most fragile regions of the country by strengthening capacity of the subnational governments. Consequently, the population will get increased access to basic services and livelihood opportunities.

Police Capacity Development on Election Security through the UNDP Election Support Program

01.04.2013 - 30.09.2013

On 11th May 2013, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will, for the first time in history, administer a transition from one full term democratic elected government to another. The probability of electoral violence threatens this opportunity. The police are the most important player in smooth conduct of election security. Yet, the majority of the police force has limited knowledge of electoral security protocol. With a contribution to the UNDP Election Support Program the capacity of police in election security will be enhanced.

Object 13 – 16 of 16