The Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah attempted to obfuscate the issue of Kalabagh Dam once more, by stating that the dam could not be built because of political and technical reasons. He stated this at a ‘meet the press’ programme in Lahore, and went on to cite the controversial ANG Abbasi Committee report to claim the Indus had been “facing a shortage of water over the years.”

The report itself has been blasted by countless experts as biased, but even if it wasn’t, the Former Irrigation Minister of Sindh should know better, because the report focuses more on the irregularity of water supply from the Indus, and uses that as the primary argument to debunk the benefits of Kalabagh. The CM’s false equivalence makes no sense. Mr Abbasi’s report has also been refuted by international NGOs such as WWF, which claim that the demand for water from the Indus system can bear irregularities of up to 10-13 percent. And while technically speaking, Murad Ali Shah is correct in pointing out that the Indus will slowly start losing its flow due to melting glaciers and climate change, a dam is the best way to mitigate the effects of irregularity of water supply of a river that has a set age.

His solution of tapping the province’s coal reserves instead is also laughable. PPP is one of the parties that has been staunch opposition against the Kalabagh Dam on the basis of the people that would lose their homes in the surrounding areas. The Sindh government has already ignored the plight of the Thar people in an almost callous display of indifference, but why does it not apply the same argument of uprooting local communities on the poor people of Thar?

And finally, if we are to take the Chief Minister’s words on face value, he is claiming that the world’s twenty-first largest river (in terms of annual flow) cannot handle the dam. This assertion is preposterous not only because it is a factual inaccuracy, but also because a political representative of the people is stating this as an informed opinion.

The Kalabagh dam may not be built because of political reasons, but not technical. The technicalities he is referring too are mostly artificial, created by members of his party and others and using provincial harmony and the unity of the federation as the grand principles that could be effected if the dam is built. But if he thinks that a federation cannot open its eyes and work for the greater good of the entire country, then maybe the definition of what it means to be a federation should be analysed more closely by the CM.