Among the major issues that have defied a consensus in Pakistan - the Kalabagh Dam stands titanic. With recent offence taken by the Senate and Sindh party leaders still rallying the province against its construction, what is needed is a clear stance on the issue based in fact.

Recently the founder of the Awami Tehreek Rasool Bukhsh Palijo has said that Sindh will stand “destroyed and its people will become destitute gradually if Kalabagh dam is built.” He said the dam was a conspiracy to turn Sindh’s lands barren and see it’s people starving and begging. The dam’s initial proposal conspired towards no such thing. Pakistan is a water-stressed country and we have no reserves. In another fifty years, much of the land of Sindh will be subjected to desertification. Will the tables turn then? Will we lament over the political expediency of our forefathers when our children are starving?

The Chairman of WAPDA Zafar Mahmood has taken the position that Kalabagh Dam must be built, citing cases and statistics in a series of articles. The position of the Chairman was so controversial that there was criticism of his articles in Senate. Why the protection and perseveration of water is so controversial is beyond the understanding of most experts and engineers. It is the politicians who have failed the project as well as their people. The failure of the government to ensure fair allocation of water has left a lingering impression in the collective psyche of many people, especially farmers, that this dam would serve no one.

These fears of the people regarding the construction of the dam need to be dispelled. The opponents should not ignore technical facts and statistics with regard to the flow of water, mired in their own political stubbornness. We are losing vast amounts of water to the sea, without it being utilised, and the Kalabagh dam will store it and release it when needed. If fair allocations cannot be made, such that Sindh does not feel cheated, we have failed to come together as a federation and have resigned our future generations to famine.

No attempt should be made to impose the decision on any province or to ignore or bypass any given region. However, leaders like Palijo may need to change the narrative. Rather than opposing the dam unequivocally, why not pass legislation that makes sure that allocation of water is fair? The dam will take at least fifteen years to be up and running. There is enough time meanwhile to sort out the political quarrels between the provinces and parties.