A nationalist party that had attempted to march in protest on the Chinese consulate on July 12, found itself on the defensive after a motorcycle bomb went off near the diplomatic site - although to ostensibly target Rangers personnel.
The Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) group condemned the attack and stressed that while it disagreed with certain projects being undertaken in Sindh with the help of the Chinese it would never use violence to protest. “Our [late] leader Sain GM Syed believed in the politics of non-violence and our former chairman Bashir Qureshi followed it,” stressed chairman Dr Niaz Kalani to The Express Tribune on Monday. “If anyone can prove our party committed any terrorist acts, I will give up politics.”
The Chinese signed three agreements with Pakistan in June when President Asif Ali Zardari went to Beijing. One of them is for a Zulfikarabad Special Economic Zone on the lines of Shenzhen that was signed by Zulfikarabad Development Authority MD Lt Gen (R) Iftikhar Hussain Shah and Yang Yong of the Sichuan Huantong Holding Investment Limited.
JSQM has been opposing Zulfikarabad that is to be built near Thatta because it claims that people are being dislocated from land they have owned for generations. Zulfikarabad’s MD has said that 1.3 million acres have been allocated out of which 376,000 acres have been acquired and 957,000 acres would be reclaimed from the sea.
The government has claimed this land belongs to the state, but in addition to JSQM, opposition has come from MPA Heer Ismail Soho, who belongs to Thatta. “There is a big issue regarding the land owned by the local people, [whose leases] have been cancelled,” she told this newspaper. “I belong to this area and know that the land cultivated by these people for years has been annulled in the name of developing this city.”
She clarified that while she was not against a mega project like this, the government needed to undertake it transparently by giving elected representatives technical briefings and spelling out how the dislocated people would be compensated. For now, JSQM has said that it will continue to protest against the Zulfikarabad project, the Chinese government and its companies, which are financers and builders of the project. “Our main motive was to record our protest of the people living in Sindh,” said JSQM’s Kalani. “The rallies and demonstrations will continue till the Chinese government and its people withdraw from the Zulfikarabad project, which is even more dangerous than Kalabagh dam for us.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.