ANP warns govt against Kalabagh dam

October 13, 2004

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PESHAWAR, Oct 12: The Awami National Party (ANP) has warned the federal government against the construction of a large dam at Kalabagh, saying it would result in the break-up of the country as the people of smaller provinces would never let this 'deadly' project be executed at any cost.

Speaking at large public meeting here on Tuesday, ANP leaders Asfandyar Wali and Nasim Wali warned the federal government against taking up the controversial Kalabagh dam project (KBD) and the killing of innocent people in South Waziristan in the ongoing military operation.

They said that the Kalabagh Dam was a project aimed at submerging Pukhtoons' fertile lands under water and turn Sindh's cultivable area into a desert in an effort to win prosperity for Punjab.

"If they are to go for the Kalabagh dam, then we would choose our death path on our own and the technocrats of Punjab would not be allowed to decide our destiny," said Nasim Wali, the President of the NWFP-chapter of the ANP.

ANP chief Asfandyar Wali consented to her threat and said that his party would not hesitate giving any sacrifice if the rulers tried to push it to the wall by executing the controversial dam project.

"It will lead to break up of the country and that would be their decision not our desire," said Mr Asfandyar to an emotionally charged crowd. The public meeting, which was attended by a large number of supporters of the ANP from across the province and parts of the Federally administered Tribal Areas (Fata), was held, according to its leader Farid Toofan, with an objective to muster public support for ANP's stand on the Kalabagh dam, military operation in South Waziristan tribal region, load-shedding by Water and Power Development Authority and price spiral across the country.

Mr Asfandyar Wali, Nasim Wali, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Afrasyab Khattak and Azam Hoti, in their speeches, touched upon the first two issues only and uttered no word about the rest.

The speakers hurled abuse at the civil and military establishment for killing innocent tribal children and women in South Waziristan and by putting life into the dead horse of Kalabagh dam.

Mr Afrasyab Khattak, the Additional Secretary General of the ANP, said that the rulers would be held accountable for killing the innocent 'Pukhtoon' tribesmen. "The time is over when atrocities against civilians went unnoticed," said Mr Khattak, adding that "Pukhtoons would make the rulers answerable for injustices done with them and for the lives they lost due to the government's high-handedness."

Appreciating Afghanistan for successfully conducting elections after 25 years of war and strife, Mr Khattak said that as the war-torn country underwent positive changes the people of Pakistan would also undergo pleasant change shortly.

"The nation will get rid of army generals and clerics as the country is set to undergo positive change," said Mr Khattak. Participants of the public meeting responded with "yes" when Begum Nasim Wali asked them that whether they would be ready to sacrifice their lives and properties if the government decided to go for constructing the dam at Kalabagh.

"The military has not learned from its mistakes which led to disintegration of Pakistan in 1971," said Begum Nasim Wali, adding that " the people learn from others' mistakes but we haven't learnt anything from our own experiences as the country is once again on the path to breaking up if the dam project is executed."

In this respect, the meeting also adopted a resolution, presented by the party's Vice President Haji Mohammed Adeel, that sought scrapping of the plan to construct the dam and termed it an 'anti-Pakistan' project.

Apart from focusing their criticism on the civil and military establishment of the country, ANP leaders came up with strong criticism to the politics of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) and policies of its government in the NWFP.

They accused the MMA leadership of augmenting military's rule by making hue and cry on non-issues to divert people's attention from real issues. "While innocent civilians are being killed in tribal areas and people's lives are at risk in settled areas of the country in view of recent terrorist attacks in Sialkot, Multan and Lahore, the MMA is preparing to launch an anti-Musharraf movement on the uniform issue," said Begum Nasim Wali.

She termed the MMA's move an attempt to provide a safe passage to President Musharraf on the uniform issue, adding that the Mullah-Military Alliance (MMA) is again at work to achieve mutual goals.

She accused the MMA lea-dership of helping President Gen Pervez Musharraf of prolonging his rule by diverting people's attention to 'non-issues'. "First, they [MMA leaders] helped them [ruling PML] in getting the 17th Amendment passed in an exchange for getting Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman notified as the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly and now they are making hue and cry again," said Begum Nasim Wali.