‘Country needs big dams but water dispute among provinces should also be resolved’

Updated October 22, 2018


MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar speaks to the Hindu community at the temple on Saturday evening.—Online
MQM-P leader Dr Farooq Sattar speaks to the Hindu community at the temple on Saturday evening.—Online

HYDERABAD: Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar has said that big dams are required to be built and the chief justice of Pakistan is playing an important role in this regard but inter-provincial water dispute should also be resolved.

He was speaking to reporters at a temple within the circuit house here late on Saturday evening where he also attended a ceremony organised by the Hindu community to celebrate the religious festival of Dassehra.

He said that Pakistan needed big reservoirs to store water and appreciated efforts being made in this regard by Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar. He said people must also participate in this campaign. However, he also called for resolving the water sharing dispute between provinces.

When Sukkur and Guddu barrages had been built, then dams could also be built, he argued, and said construction of small water storage projects was also an option that should be considered as well.

About his position in the MQM-P, he said he was part of the party and had made his position known to everyone in his recent press conferences.

Speaking about rights of minorities in Pakistan, he said they, being Pakistani citizens, had equal rights as enshrined in the Constitution. He referred to the Aug 11, 1947 speech of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in which he had envisioned a state where Muslims and religious minorities would have equal rights. He said that Jinnah’s speech should be made part of the Constitution.

Dr Sattar said that he would stand for religious minorities’ rights. They must have rights in social, education and health sectors, adding that if any conspiracy was hatched against religious minorities, it would be conspiracy against this country. “Pakistan must progress and prosper,” he said.

The MQM-P leader said that minorities should know that the Muslim community was under religious obligation to protect their fundamental and religious rights and their places of worship.

Rallies and demonstrations

The Sindh Sufi Sangat (SSS) took out a rally from Hyderabad against construction of Kalabagh dam and other “anti-Sindh projects” on Sunday.

Led by Akash Mallah, Punhal Sario, Abdul Fatah Channa, Ali Raza Khaskheli, Darshan Sachdev, Dr Ashothama, Niaz Ahmed Panhwar and other nationalist and rights activists, the rally reached Tando Mohammed Khan in the evening.

Speaking to the participants, the activists described Kalabagh dam as a controversial project and claimed that the recent announcement in favour of the dam was aimed at “inciting Sindhi people to a revolt against the project”. They said that it [announcement] was tantamount to hurting sentiments of people of three [smaller] provinces.

They also urged the government to order repatriation of “aliens” to their countries of origin from Sindh in order to put an end to terrorism in the country.

They were of the view that successive governments had been implementing “anti-Sindh projects” only to perpetuate their rule.

Separately, activists of the Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) held a demonstration here on Sunday against Kalabagh dam and proposed issuance of national identity cards to illegal immigrants living in Karachi.

Led by Dr Aziz Talpur, Dr Gulzar Jumani, Zeenat Samoon and others, they participants also held a sit-in at Pakorra bus stop. The leaders, speaking to the protesters, said that a robbery had been committed to deprive Sindh of Indus water and render the province barren.

The activists pointed out that tail-end growers of Sindh were facing tremendous difficulties due to unavailability of water.

“Prices of farm produce are artificially brought down; sugar cane crop’s price is not fixed because 18 sugar mills are owned by those who are in power; even last year’s liabilities of growers against millers are not cleared,” one of the activists said.

They observed that illegal immigrants, including Afghans, Bengalis, Bihari and Burmese converted Sindhis to a minority in this province. They claimed that issuance of NICs to them was aimed at getting their votes.

BADIN: Awami Tehreek (AT) president Dr Rasool Bux Khaskeli, along with Noor Mohammed Katiar, Begum Zauner and other party colleagues led a rally here on Saturday against construction of dams over Indus and moves to grant nationality to illegal immigrants.

Expressing their concern over corrupt ministers, officials and other people being granted bail, they claimed that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials were facilitating their release on bail. “Looted wealth [of the country] should be recovered from big fish after arresting them,” they stressed.

AT women wing (Sindhiyani Tehreek) leaders and children also took part in the rally. A group of activist observed a token hunger strike during the two-day protest outside the local press club.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) activist Dr Musrrat Hussain Khwaja, Jaey Sindh Mahaz-Riaz (JSM-R) chief Riaz Chandio and others visited the protest camp and expressed solidarity with them.

LARKANA: An organisation calling itself the National Peace Committee for Interfaith Harmony (NPCIH) organised a rally here on Sunday in favour of constructing big dams.

Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of new dams, the participants held a march from Tank Chowk to Jinnahbagh.

The rally was led by NPCIH chairman Zulfikar Magsi, Jan Mohammed Tunio and others.

The leaders said that construction of Diamer-Bhasha and other dams was essentially needed to address the growing water and energy issues. They said the country could face a major crisis if the dams were not built now as it was already faced with a serious water and electricity shortages.

They urged people to fully participate in the ongoing campaign for the construction of big and small dams in the country.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2018