HYDERABAD: The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party has decided to table a resolution against the Kalabagh Dam project in the Sindh Assembly on December 6. The move is expected to be supported by the coalition as well as opposition parties.
Provincial assembly speaker Nisar Khuhro has said that the resolution will reject the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) November 29 decision to order the federal government to build the controversial dam.
However, apart from harsh criticism of dam by PPP leaders through statements and press conferences, it remains unclear what course of action will the party pursue in the wake of the LHC decision. While federal information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had claimed on Saturday that the PPP would raise the issue at the Council of Common Interest, federal parliamentary affairs minister Maula Bux Chandio said that it was important that the people express their disapproval against the project. “The course [of action] is yet to be decided,” added Chandio during a press conference on Sunday.
Chandio also advised the judiciary to follow the army’s precedent and stay clear from politically-charged issues. “Let the mandate of the people reign supreme.”
The minister criticised Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for lobbying for the dam’s construction. They are trying to make the federal government build a consensus among the four provinces on the project, claimed Chandio. Nisar Khuhro, during a press conference on Saturday, had also asked the Sharif brothers if they will pass a resolution against the LHC’s decision in the Punjab Assembly.
The Sindh Assembly session on Thursday is also expected to put the Pir Pagara-led Pakistan Muslim League-Functional in a tight spot, as the party has supported the dam in the past. While Pagara recently claimed that his party will oppose the project, Khuhro had taken a swipe at the PML-F on Saturday as well. “This issue [Kalabagh Dam project] exposes some historic realities. It is necessary to refresh people’s memories,” said Khuhro.
The rift between the ruling PPP and its former coalition partners, PML-F, Awami National Party, National Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, had widened after the provincial assembly promulgated the new local government ordinance.
The parties had parted ways with the PPP, and their ministers had resigned from provincial assemblies. They also took part in a province-wide strike against the system organised by Sindhi nationalist parties on November 30. They also plan on organising a large public gathering in Hyderabad on December 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2012.