I PML-N lawmaker rules out Nowshera would be down in waters

due to construction of reservoir I PPP lawmaker says dam could be constructed only over corpses of people of Sindh I MQM stages walkout over imposition of local governments ordinance in Sindh

ISLAMABAD - A resolution, brought by a female lawmaker from the Opposition benches in the National Assembly, calling on the government to take steps for resolution of the issue of construction of dams by India on Pakistani rivers became controversial, after a Treasury member branded the construction of Kalabagh Dam as an indispensable matter.

There was uproar in the Lower House of Parliament from Pakistan People’s Party when Tahira Aurangzeb of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, while speaking on the resolution, stated the construction of Kalabagh Dam was indispensable for the country’s future. 

A number of lawmakers wanted to speak on the resolution, moved by Belum Hasnain of PPP. Also, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, Shah Mahmood Qureshi of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and federal minister Abdul Qadir Baloch requested the resolution not be made controversial as they had to take up the issue of Pakistan’s water share with India.

The speaker, however, ordered the debate be continued on the next Private Members Day.

Earlier, PML-N’s Tahira Aurangzeb said the construction of Kalabagh Dam was indispensable for the future of the country, and there no issue if it was named as Kalabagh or something else. She ruled out the impression that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Nowshera district would be down in waters due to the construction of the water reservoir.

Ms Aurangzeb’s statement stirred up a storm within Pakistan People's Party ranks, with Shazia Marri bluntly objecting to her remarks. However the speaker did not permit her to interfere.

Throwing weight behind his party member's suggestion, Bashir Virk affirmed that Kalabagh Dam was the only water reservoir that could be built in Pakistan.

Upon this, Mir Munawar Ali Talpur of PPP remarked that if someone had to disintegrate Pakistan, then the proposed dam could be taken care of. Another PPP lawmaker, Yousaf Talpur, said there was a feeling in the people of Sindh that their province would be deprived of its due share as a result of the construction of the controversial dam. “This dam could only be constructed over corpses of the people of Sindh,” were the remarks made an irate Riaz Somroo of PPP.

Nevertheless, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah intervened to smooth over the situation, and said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had already made it clear that the dam could not be constructed until all the provinces arrived on a consensus. He was of the view that PML-N members should not speak over the controversial matter since they were sitting in the government and their each and every word had some weightage. "This gives the message that the PML-N-led government was going to usurp the rights of the smaller provinces," he said, and questioned why it wanted the make the provinces its enemies.

Shah also clarified that the PPP was not against construction of dams, but the smaller provinces.

On his turn, PTI’s Makhdoom Javed Hasmhi said the experts had rightly predicted that next wars would be fought on water shares. He also recalled that a dictator, Ayub Khan, had given India water shares of Pakistan through the Indus Water Treaty and also supported the construction of Kalabagh Dam.

Taking the floor, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch clarified that the manifesto of his party PML-N was clear in this context that no dam could be constructed without consensus of all the provinces. He said the viewpoint of a lawmaker from his party should not be regarded as the party's version.

"There is a controversy around Kalabagh Dam and our party is clear that the issue would not be touched until a consensus was achieved," Baloch said, while adding there was the provision of electricity generation in the Indus Water Treaty, but Pakistan could go internationally to decide as to how much dams India could construct on it’s [Pakistan’s] rivers.

Expressing his views on the resolution, MNA Shafqat Mahmood said India was violating the water treaty and that the water issues with India should be accorded top priority during the composite dialogue between the two states.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a walkout from the House over the imposition of the Sindh Local Governments Ordinance. It called it controversial as well as a black law and tantamount to pre-poll rigging. Abdul Rasheed Gondal said faulty delimitations were being made and MQM’s mandate was being bulldozed through this law.

Earlier, the speaker refereed three private members bills – the Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2013 - and two constitutional amendment bills 2013 to the standing committees concerned. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2013, moved by Dr Ramesh Kumar, is aimed at introducing separate electorate system and increase in number of minority seats in the Assembly. The other bill, moved by Kishwer Zehra, proposes reserved seats for disabled persons in the Senate as well as National Assembly.

The House was adjourned to meet again at 10:30 am on Wednesday.