The Sindh Assembly on Friday passed four resolutions unanimously against the construction of Kalabagh Dam, as lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle asked the federal government to shun the controversial project permanently that poses threats to the national unity.
The house, however, witnessed chaotic scenes for the second day of the debate on KBD, as lawmakers continued to blame each others” parties for supporting the dam”s construction in the past. Treasury and opposition members were on the same page against construction of the dam, but their political differences polarised the house. With Speaker Nisar Khuhro in chair, the provincial legislature at last evolved unanimity to denounce the Lahore High Court”s verdict on dam”s construction and statements of Chief Minister Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, supporting the project.
Lawmakers of all the parties present in the house voted for the four resolutions opposing the dam construction. The lawmakers feared the dam construction will create rifts in national unity. They also slammed the decision of LHC in their speeches. Resuming the discussion, senior lawmaker of Pakistan People”s Party (PPP), Anwar Khan Mehar said Sindhis were of the considered view that construction of Kalabagh Dam would desolate the agriculture land of their province. He warned that if the dam was constructed, it would trigger huge exodus from Sindh as its construction has been planned on River Indus, which is the only water resource of irrigation and drinking of the province.
He said the lack of water in River Indus was allowing the sea to erode land in Thatta and Badin and if the trend continued it would further wreck havoc on the entire landscape of the lower riparian province. Sindh Financial Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, vowed that as long as his party was in government, it will never allow anyone to construct the dam.
He was of the view that the creation of one unit during former military dictator, General Ayub Khan, was primarily aimed at depriving Sindh of its water allocation. He said the PPP government never earmarked development budget for construction of Kalabagh Dam. In water accord of 1991, the construction of greater Thal Canal was engrafted forcefully, he said, adding that the Sindhi nationalists had been the supporters of construction of Kalabagh Dam. They have concocted ways to somehow manage to develop the dam.
Sindh Information Minister, Sharjeel Inam Memon, asked whether the LHC was a “parallel” court to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, as it is giving judgements on cases which the apex court should decide. He said the LHC has given a decision without hearing the views of other three provinces including Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the issue. He blamed CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for the fresh controversy.
He said the incumbent prime minister, when he was federal minister for water and power, had clearly rejected the dam plan, which is the federal government”s stance on the issue. During his speech, National Peoples Party”s Arif Mustafa Jatoi stood on his feet and asked him to dare to name those who had supported the construction of Kalabagh Dam.
His demand created a rumpus in the house. Sharjeel Memon said those who were sitting on the opposition benches had been part of the support including NPP”s Masroor Jatoi. Legislator of PML-F, Jam Madad Ali, urged the ruling PPP to adopt a joint resolution instead of four such motions for condemning the construction of the dam. He, however, made it clear while responding to allegations made by PPP lawmakers in their speeches that former CM Sindh Arbab Rahim, MQM chief Altaf Hussain, NNP head, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and PML-F chief, late Pir Pagara had strongly rejected the plan of Pervez Musharraf to construct the dam.
However, he criticised the PPP for not reprimanding its own lawmaker in Punjab Assembly, who as the opposition leader extended support to construction of the dam. He urged the PPP leadership to control its lawmakers and bar them from supporting the dam.
Sindh Fisheries Minister, Zahid Ali Bhurgari, criticised the opposition political parties, saying they had supported the dam”s construction in the past. He said the PPP had never allocated funds for the dam”s construction. He said that now no military government will come into power and those who had used covert links to come into power should now understand such a political trend has ended. “It is a message for those who have came to power on agencies” shoulders,” he added.
Meantime, lady lawmaker of PML-F rose on her feet and intercepted his speech, which drew the house into another tumult that remained for quite a while. Later, he said the PPP government empowered the provinces with autonomy. There were also slogans of shame shame from treasury benches which further plunged the house into rumpus. The noise and disturbance deprived ANP”s lawmaker, Amanullah Mehsud, of his turn to speak on the issue. He was given a brief chance latter.
Mehsud urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take a suo motu action against LHC for its verdict. He said that no patriotic citizen of Punjab will support the dam construction. He lauded the efforts of PPP for opposing the dam in the past, but gave credit to his party for struggling against the projects before anyone else. PPP lawmaker Jamil-uz-Zaman, Sussui Palejo, Humera Alwani and Imdad Pitafi and MQM”s Heer Ismail Soho were other speakers who took part in the debate. Late the speaker prorogued the house.