The National Assembly was seen divided again on Tuesday, as the construction of the Kalabagh dam came under discussion in the lower house of parliament.
Members from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz noted that Kalabagh dam was the only solution to the issues whereas the opposition pointed out that the controversial dam could ‘disintegrate’ the country.
“If someone wants to disintegrate Pakistan, then the proposed dam should be built,” said the Pakistan Peoples Party leader Mir Munawar Ali Talpur.
Talpur was responding to Tahira Aurangzeb from the PML-N who had said that the construction of the dam was indispensable for the future of the country no matter the dam was given a new name. She said that the impression was wrong that Noshera District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be submerged if the dam was built.
Belum Hasnain of the PPP had earlier moved a resolution, in the lower house, asking the government to take steps to resolve issues regarding the construction of dams by India but a discussion could not take place.
The speaker ruled that the debate would continue on the next private members’ day (Tuesday) despite requests from the leader of Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah, PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi and federal minister Abdul Qadir Baloch that the resolution should not be made controversial as they had to discuss the issues with India over water shares.
When the situation got out of hands, Khursheed Shah intervened and recalled prime minister’s statement that the dam will not be built until they had consensus from all the provinces.
He said that PML-N members should refrain from bringing up controversial issues like the Kalabagh dam as they were sitting on the treasury benches and every word they said carried weight. “This gives the message that the PML-N led government was going to usurp the rights of smaller provinces,” he said.
He clarified that PPP was not against the construction of dams but the smaller provinces had objection over the construction of Kalabagh Dam.
Representing PML-N’s stance, Abdul Qadir Baloch clarified that his party’s manifesto was clear: that no dam would be constructed without consensus. He said that the point of view of a lawmaker of his party should not be regarded as the party’s version.
He said that there was provision of electricity generation in Indus Water Treaty but Pakistan could go internationally to decide as to how much dams India could construct on Pakistan’s water shares.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2013.
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