KARACHI, Nov 12: Speakers at a meeting here on Sunday called for the cancellation of the agreement under which two islands off the Karachi coast have been allotted to a foreign firm for a mega project. They also demanded a high-level inquiry through an independent commission into the allotment of Sindh’s lands, particularly along the Super Highway and the coastline.

Prominent figures Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Khalid Soomro, Hakim Ali Zardari, Qaiser Bengali, Muhibbullah Shah, Najma Sadiq, Arif Hassan, Taj Haider, Hakim Baloch, Rajab Memon, Zulfiqar Halepoto and Abrar Kazi were among those who expressed their views at the meeting on “Resources of Sindh and the Question of Ownership” which was opened by Mr Hussain Haroon, a former Sindh Assembly speaker.

The discussion was organised by the Sindh Democratic Forum.The speakers noted that Sindh’s lands were being allotted with mala fide intention. The objective was to control the province’s resources and displace its native citizens from their ancestral lands.

They said that under the Constitution, governor was just a ceremonial head of the province, and demanded immediate withdrawal of the notification that empowered the governor in the matter of land allotments.

They called for the cancellation of the allotment of Bundal and Buddu islands, and demanded that all islands be left in their natural state as so-called uplift activities would destroy marine ecosystem and harm fishing and the livelihood of fishermen communities.

They feared that the allotment of these islands to a foreign firm and illegal interference by the PQA and other federal agencies in the provincial land matters would result in an influx of people into the province. This, they added, would exert enormous pressure on the fragile infrastructure of the province, one the one hand, and would change the demography of Sindh, on the other.

The speakers said the allotment of lands to the federal government should also be withdrawn whereas the DHA and other authorities be stopped from occupying the coastal lands in the name of beach development.

They also urged the international financial institutions and foreign donors, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, DFID and the United Nations, not to fund any such project in the province which would ultimately lead to ‘cleansing’ of the local people and deprivation of their ancestral abodes.

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