LIVERMORE: A historic opportunity must be met with historic resolve, former Supreme Court chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani commented while holding forth on the pressing national need for dams.
Jillani made the remarks while addressing those present at a California fundraiser on this account. The former CJP commenced his speech by drawing attention to how the nation was on the cusp of “great change”. In the midst of this euphoria, Jillani spoke about how it was imperative to “reflect and discern” why the nation found itself at a watershed.
The legal luminary dwelled on Pakistan’s fraught relationship with water and the combined force of Indian machinations and self-inflicted stress. “Pakistan’s relationship with its eastern neighbour is only one aspect of the issue; much of the prevalent water crisis is of our own making.”
Presenting the crux of the problem, he noted how the nation was confronted “by the profligate waste of water as well as its unregulated extraction, and an individual insensitivity towards the environment and its preservation – all against a backdrop of explosive population growth.”
Commenting on how mere mention of the word “dam” was construed as a loaded statment, Jillani spoke about how the structures were “considered symbols of strength of Leviathian states”. He presented figures on dam building across China, Japan and India to add context.
For reasons similar, the erstwhile CJP opined building dams was considered an exclusive preserve of a priveleged majority at odds with “cousins across three smaller provinces”. Little wonder then, he said, conversations tended to polarise.
Something of a national consensus on water scracity posing a formidable problem, however, has emerged. The need for large dams cannot be emphasised enough, Jillani said.
“Seldom have Pakistan’s stars aligned in such a manner, but just as seldom have we made use of such collective goodwill,” the former CJP noted with regard to unanimity among state institutions on the need. The merging of the Prime Minister’s Fund with the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Fund for the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams, he termed a testament to this newfound harmony.
“While building a large dam appeared without resorting to external debt may appear daunting, it was not impossible.” The International Court of Justice ad-hoc judge then went on to present a 70:30 debt to equity model to finance the $14 billion-Bhasha Dam. Shares issued to the public will carry a 15% return on equity, greater than the going National Savings Schemes rate of profit.
In conclusion, Jillani invoked the struggle for Pakistan to make an emphatic point. “Pakistan’s very creation was the culmination of a series of near-impossible achievements – a land that, unlike the vast majority of the world’s nation-states, had no basis in race or politics or geography, but was built on an idea: freedom of religious expression. Countries premised on geography rise and thrive and fall and die all around us, but nations that are premised on an idea, on the pursuit of a human ideal, can never perish. This is no time for petty politics and destructive criticism, no time for political illwill or blaming others. The times are critical, the challenge too earnest and national stakes too high to permit the passions of political debate to cloud our vision. We are not here to curse the ills that plague our country but to light the candles, to enkindle hopes, which can steer us through the current crisis and secure a prosperous future.”