BADIN: Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) president Ayaz Latif Palijo on Monday lashed out at the federal government for its failure to protect the women belonging to minorities, claiming that the cases of their abduction and forced conversion were on the rise in Sindh.
Mr Palijo, who is also the general secretary of the Grand Democratic Alliance, was speaking to local reporters during a sit-in organised in Talhar town by his party against persisting water crisis and injustices with growers, minorities and people of drought-hit Thar region.
He said it was responsibility of both federal and provincial governments to take stern action against those influential figures who were involved in the abduction and forced conversions of Hindu women.
He held the federal and provincial governments equally responsible for the lack of food, water and health facilities in Thar where, according to him, children were dying of hunger and people were committing suicide due to abject poverty and helplessness.
“There is also an urgent need for enacting a law against honour killing, still rampant in Sindh,” he said.
Changing policies, not ministers, may bring prosperity, says Palijo
Mr Palijo called for real women’s empowerment in the province, saying that the weaker segment must be given equal opportunities in all fields.
“Thar is giving its natural wealth, coal, to the country for power generation. As such, the people of Thar deserve to be provided basic amenities, at least,” he argued.
Answering different questions, the QAT chief said thorough investigations must be held into the death of two girls due to medical professionals’ criminal negligence, criminal assault and poisoning to death of a woman by a doctor and all other such incidents that recently took place at Karachi’s hospitals.
Mr Palijo also led a rally of his party workers, farmers, growers and traders coming from across the province and activists of the Save Badin Action Committee against persisting water crisis in Badin and other districts of the province.
Addressing the rally, Mr Palijo deplored that that the PPP government, instead of providing any relief to the people of Sindh, was even depriving them of irrigation water. “It’s height of injustice and callousness that water [is] being flown into flood canals while the people of the tail-end areas of Badin district are left with no other option but to consume highly contaminated subsoil water,” he said.
He noted that the ongoing movement launched by farmers and growers of the district for water was picking up momentum with each passing day. He condemned the indifference on the part of the government functionaries concerned.
He warned that if illegal blockages were not removed to allow flow of water equally to all growers’ lands, most parts of the district would face a famine and this might trigger a large-scale migration to major cities.
Mr Palijo demanded removal of corrupt officials of the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida) and irrigation department to deal with the artificial water crisis.
“It will be very dangerous if water is released in the Mallah minor in violation of the relevant Sindh High Court order, which has recently declared the waterway illegal,” Mr Palijo said.
He also condemned the PPP government for leaving people of the province at the mercy of exploiters. “Wheat and sugar cane growers are not being paid a fair price of their produce while Sindh government seems not interested in buying wheat from growers,” he pointed out, and said [PPP co-chairman] Asif Ali Zardari and his close associates were bent upon devastating growers and ruining the agriculture sector to pile wealth as they owned mills.
Mr Palijo also held Wapda and the Indus River System Authority responsible for the water crisis in Sindh and warned them against meting out a step-motherly treatment to the smaller federating units.
He noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not so far announced a relief or development package for Sindh, and remarked: “A change and prosperity could not come by changing ministers, it will come when good policies are made and planning is done”.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2019