Hoodwinking public opinion

Instead of accepting the responsibility of their deliberate failure to construct water reservoirs that pushed the country into acute water shortages, the political elite is now bent upon hoodwinking the public opinion which is building up and gaining momentum in the support of Kalabagh dam.. After the stereotype and devoid of substance recent statements of ANP leadership against this most feasible and willingly fundable hydropower project by international donor agencies, former leader of opposition in the National Assembly Khursid Shah has also jumped on the bandwagon of anti-Kalabagh dam lobby. He said that the Council of Common Interest (CCI) should have a final call on this mega project.

Referring to a two years old petition being heard at the Supreme Court regarding this project, Shah said the apex court should allow the council to look into the issue since three provincial legislatures, the Sindh. Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa had passed resolutions against this project. In April, the top court sought a reply from the federal government over the measures taken for the construction of water reservoirs after it began hearing a petition on depletion of existing water reservoirs by 2025.

The construction of Kalabagh dam was not a controversial issue before the decade of 1980s. Its launching was very much in the pipeline in mid 70s. Land had already acquired and the construction of residential colonies for WAPDA officials had to be started. At that time none to political parties and provincial governments raised objections to this project. Even the coalition government of National Awami Party and Jamiate-e -Ulema Islam (1972-73) in KP did not say a single word against Kalbagh dakm.

A Sindhi Prime Minster Mohammad Khan Junejo had almost succeeded to achieve the consensus of federating units for the construction of Kalabagh dam but Chairman WAPDA did not agree to the proposal of KP government that was aimed at resolving a few minor technical issues in the cabinet meeting held in Governor’s House Peshawar in 1985. It gave a golden opportunity to ANP leadership to make Kalabagh dam project politically controversial. PPP and Sindhi nationalist parties joined the anti-Kalbagh dam chorus much later. The leaderships of these political parties have failed to support their stance against this multidimensional project of supreme national interest by technical data. Merely hollow political statements are issued and anti-Kalabagh dam resolutions are passed in the provincial legislatures in compliance with one man say is the order of day for deriving political capital at the expense of national interest. The outcome is nothing but the looming water crisis.


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