KARACHI   -  As the Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the relevant parties for presenting their arguments, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan on Friday said the islands belonged to Sindh.

On the other hand, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah said an area of 12 nautical miles from the coast was owned by the province, adding that everyone should stand by the Constitution, as they were not asking anyone to stand by the PPP. The attorney general admitted this as the Sindh High Court heard a petition filed against the ordinance promulgated by President Arif Alvi to establish Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) – a move that had generated a strong response amid the already volatile political situation.

Khalid was talking to media persons outside the Sindh High Court where he said the islands were owned by the people of Sindh and would remain so. But he added that the islands’ land would be used for their own interests. He said that no project would be executed without consulting the Sindh government. 

“The Centre and Sindh can solve the issues by sitting together,” said the attorney general who insisted that the Islands’ matter won’t be resolved in courts. Khalid said the Centre was ready to amend the ordinance according to the provincial government’s wishes. Earlier, Jibran Nasir – the counsel for the petitioner – pressed the case for the ownership of Sindh and argued before the court that the construction work on the islands would adversely affect the environment, especially the mangroves forests. 

As other citizens too joined the petitions through separate applications, senior lawyer Shahab Usto said the Centre had issued two more ads even after the court issued notices on the issue. Similarly, the counsel for Sindh government said they had explained their opinion and the Centre wasn’t being taken into confidence on any of the issues. 

However, the attorney general was of the view that the issue could not be solved through the citizens’ petitions, claiming that the federal government wasn’t acting illegally. Meanwhile, Murad, who was addressing a ceremony in Sukkur, said the ordinance was a public property but had been kept secret for a month. He said they wanted the federal government to withdraw the ordinance, adding that the provincial assembly had recently passed a resolution against the unconstitutional move.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution, calling upon the federal government to immediately withdraw its presidential ordinance to establish PIDA as it was aimed at unlawful annexation of two islands of Karachi’s coast that were an integral part of Sindh. The latest controversy erupted as the federal government without any consultation suddenly opted to PIDA by promulgating an ordinance with the stated aim of developing modern cities on Bundal and Buddo (also known as Bhundaar and Dingi) islands. As soon as the ordinance came to the limelight a month after it was secretly promulgated, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had warned that they would use every forum to nullify the unconstitutional move.