The Sindh Assembly passed four resolutions against the construction of the Kalabagh Dam on Friday, and MPAs threatened to block the entry of PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif into the province for supporting the dam. Though the Sindh Assembly, like the other Assemblies in the country, is at the end of its tenure, it still chose to make clear, through a unanimous resolution its opposition to the recent verdict of the Lahore High Court, Not only did it disregard that its power to criticize a court is restricted, especially when it merely delivered a verdict, but it also did not perhaps see that the resolution also called on the federal government to disobey a constitutional body. The verdict called on the federal government to build the dam in implementation of the decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI), which had decided that it needed to be constructed. Thus any rejection of the verdict implies a rejection of the decision. Clearly, those behind the moving of the resolution are unable to get the decision reversed by the CCI.

It is noteworthy that the debate no longer included much discussion of technical issues, but members opposing the dam rested their case on the threat to the federation if it was built, and complaints that Punjab was throwing its weight around. This is a reflection of how members must show that the technical argument has been lost, as proponents have answered all that opponents have been able to think up. The threat to Mian Nawaz was also a violation of the constitution, which the members cannot do. First, there is freedom of movement, which cannot be restricted, and then there is freedom of speech. Just as much as the members opposed Kalabagh Dam, so does Mian Nawaz have to support it, not that he has been doing so vigorously enough. The constitutional aspect did not get the attention it deserved.

The building of the dam is only opposed by those with narrow parochial interests, whose only political card it is. The Sindh Assembly has fallen into their hands. If members think that their opposition will help their chances of re-election, they should remember that voters have realised that not building the dam means remaining condemned to lack of electricity and irrigation water, but building it means not just hydel power coming on-stream, but greater availability of irrigation water.