Unanimous resolution: Sindh Assembly rejects Kalabagh, court order

Assembly condemns LHC decision as ‘a conspiracy to trigger war among the provinces over water resources’.


Hafeez Tunio December 08, 2012

KARACHI:


Though it was the fourth time the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution against Kalabagh Dam, Friday’s unanimous motion was given more pertinence given that it came on the heels of a Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict ordering the project’s construction.


The assembly condemned the LHC decision as ‘a conspiracy to trigger war among the provinces over water resources’.

Friday’s assembly session was marked by uproar on all sides, with both treasury and opposition members initially labelling each other ‘traitors’. But despite the shouts and screams, the house stood up cohesively towards the end to move the resolution.

“The house reiterates its strong resolve to reject the Kalabagh Dam and condemn the LHC decision… Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa (K-P), through separate resolutions, have already reiterated that the proposed project is detrimental to the unity of Pakistan, with most dangerous repercussions on Sindh. The house recommends the federal government to abandon this project once and for all in the larger interest of the people of Sindh,” read the resolution.

The house

A flood of emotions broke out when Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Anwar Mahar told the house that Kalabagh was a technical, rather than a political issue.

“Indus is a seasonal river, which carries water in the Kharif season... Sindh’s underground water reservoirs have turned brackish… people in Badin and Thatta are dying of thirst, but the LHC still wants to set off a conflict among provinces.”

Pinning blame

“The 1991 Water Accord was approved at a time when the late Jam Sadiq was the chief minister of Sindh and a sitting MPA of this house was a provincial irrigation minister. They agreed to induct the Greater Thal Canal, ignoring the genuine concern of Sindh’s people,” said PPP’s Murad Ali Shah, giving a background of the controversy.

Chaos erupted with Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon and Fisheries Minister Zahid Bhugari lashed out at both Sindhi nationalists and opposition members. Claiming that the opposition was looking for dictators to overthrow the democratic government, Memon said, “The opposition and the former provincial irrigation minister (mentioned by Shah) who is a member of this house must tender an apology for endorsing dictators, Kalabagh Dam and other anti-Sindh projects.”

When National Peoples Party’s (NPP) Arif Mustafa Jatoi insisted the former minister in question be named, Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro told him it was none other than his brother Masroor Jatoi.

This led to heated arguments between treasury and opposition, each chanting slogans against the other.

Other parties’ comments

During the session, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) Heer Ismail Soho informed the house of a meeting at the Governor House during Pervez Musharraf’s regime to evolve consensus on Kalabagh Dam. She maintained that MQM chief Altaf Hussain categorically rejected the meeting. MQM has been against the project since day one and will continue to resist it, added Soho.

After the session

In a press briefing following the session, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said a resolution by the provincial assembly is far more important than any court decision. He accused the Sharifs of conspiring against the federation, saying “they always hatch conspiracies before elections.”

Meanwhile, in a separate press briefing, NPP legislator Arif Mustafa Jatoi sought to clarify his family’s role - or apparent lack thereof - in the Kalabagh Dam project.

“Murad Ali Shah kept referring to this minister or that minister in his speech… He should have taken names. He was referring to my brother [Masroor Jatoi] and I can tell you that my brother’s signature is not on the 1991 Water Accord. It was signed by the chief minister and the water and power ministry secretary, Alam Baloch,” he told reporters, adding, “Now Alam Baloch’s sons have been welcomed into PPP and will be given election tickets.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2012.

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