Stoking issue of Kalabagh dam: PPP MPs move motion against WAPDA chief

Accuse Zafar Mahmood of acting beyond his mandate


Danish Hussain July 02, 2016
Mahmood wrote: “There is an urgent need to develop a consensus on Kalabagh dam for it may enable us to hammer out an agreement on more important water issues.” PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: An intellectual discourse of a bureaucrat favouring Kalabagh dam landed him in trouble after four PPP lawmakers moved an adjournment motion in the lower house of parliament against him.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman Zafar Mahmood wrote 26 articles published between May 31 and June 25 in a newspaper – all in favour of Kalabagh dam.

As many as four PPP parliamentarians submitted an adjournment motion in the National Assembly against recent articles and statements given by Mahmood on media over the issue.

Speaking out: ‘Expedite construction of Bhasha Dam instead of Kalabagh’

The movers included Naveed Qamar, Shazia Atta Marri, Dr Nafisa Shah, and Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani.

“Three provincial assemblies have already passed resolutions against the construction of Kalabagh dam. Publication of such statements/articles by Wapda chairman will open a Pandora’s box,” the motion read. “Wapda chairman’s attempt is not only beyond his mandate but it also … challenges the unity of the federation,” it stated.

Terming the issue a serious one, the legislators stated that this required immediate discussion in the National Assembly. The motion was moved on Friday (July 1).

In his articles, Zafar Mahmood tried to explain the project and answer reservations associated with it.

On Friday, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah also cautioned Zafar Mahmood against issuing statements over the ‘controversial’ project.

Shah said that a public servant should not issue such statements.

He said that the issue of power shortage could be solved by building small dams, including Bhasha dam, saying it was now futile to favour such a controversial project.

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Shazia Marri told The Express Tribune: “The (Wapda) chairman’s statements are against the spirit of federalism and requires the immediate attention of parliament.”

She said the PML-N government should not back such elements; as this had the potential to open up a new confrontation. Nafisa Shah said the issue was not limited to writing and publishing articles, but Mahmood was even issuing political statements over the matter.

“He [Mahmood] should be sacked, as it is a matter of keeping the federation of Pakistan intact,” Shah said.

In his last article Mahmood said, “In the 25 articles written so far, an attempt was made to cover the important issues pertaining to water management for the current and future generations… In a country like Pakistan, handling of such emotive and intricate problems is even more difficult because in our federation, water is a provincial subject and ideally we need to have a uniform policy for all provinces.”

Mahmood wrote: “There is an urgent need to develop a consensus on Kalabagh dam for it may enable us to hammer out an agreement on more important water issues.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2016.

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