THE WORK ON THE THAL CANAL PROJECT SHOULD STOP AND CALL ALL PARTY ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE - ALTAF HUSSAIN
– 16 June 2003
MQM Founder & Leader Mr Altaf Hussain has demanded of President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Jamali to stop the work on Thal Canal Project forthwith. A round table conference be convened of Sindhi’s intellectuals, experts and all political parties because the people of Sindh have strong reservations against Thal Canal Project and Sindh Assembly has also unanimously adopted a resolution against this Project. He was addressing a joint session on Thal Canal Project, of Co-ordination Committee, Members of National and Provincial Assemblies, Senators, Ministers and office bearers of various MQM departments at ‘Nine Zero’ in Azizabad, Karachi.
Mr Hussain said that in the fifty-six years history of Pakistan, smaller provinces have been the victims of suppression and of injustices. After the victory of Awami League in 1970 Elections, feudals of West Pakistan in collusion with Generals didn’t transfer power to Awami League. If power had been transferred to Awami League then Pakistan would not have been disintegrated. After the formation of Bangladesh, process of victimisation of remaining smaller provinces intensified. In the feudal political culture, the wealthy feudals, waderas and sardars, even of smaller provinces, become part and parcel of the Establishment. They are not concerned about the injustices upon people of their provinces. For example, Sindh contributes 70 percent towards the national exchequer but the people of Sindh have been continually deprived of their fundamental rights. None of the past Governments had taken steps to alleviate the problems faced by peasants and small farmers. He said that MQM is the only party that is consciously striving to alleviate the problem faced by people of Sindh, weather it is in power or not. The MQM’s stand against Thal Canal and a unanimous vote in the Sindh Assembly is clear proof of this fact. Mr Hussain said that the crops in Sindh are suffering because of scarcity of water. People of Thar can not get drinking of water and are deprived of basic necessities of life. In this situation, instead of spending billions of rupees on Thal Canal Project, the Federal Government should utilise this money to solve the problems faced by the people of Sindh and to provide water to the thirsty people of Thar. However, by unanimously bulldozing the adopted resolution of Sindh Assembly on Thal Canal, the Federal Government has commenced work on this Project. The people of Sindh question whether the aspirations and reservations of the people of Sindh and even the Sindh Assembly has any value in the eyes of the Federal Government? Mr Hussain said that we have no objection if every nook and corner of Punjab is irrigated fertile but the people of Sindh have the right to ask that if they are also Pakistanis and human then why their province is being made barren through implementation of such schemes? It is sad that poor peasants of Punjab would gain no advantage through Thal Canal – in fact the canal would benefit those retired government personnel, who have been “rewarded” thousands of acres of land – whereas the people of Sindh are deprived of water. Mr Hussain demanded of the President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafar Ullah Jamali to stop forthwith any implementation on Thal Canal Project, and a round table conference of Sindh’s intellectuals, experts and all political parties be convened on this issue, where the Sindh’s point of view must be heard.
Addressing the Members of Co-ordination Committee and elected representatives Mr Hussain asked them to take up this critical issue at every forum including the National Assembly, Senate and Provincial Assembly; and urgently devise a line of action and act upon it. He said that even if we are part of coalition government, this does not mean that we should not raise our voice over issues against the people of Sindh. To raise an issue on ethical moral grounds is according to democratic norms. It is our democratic right to peacefully raise our voice against steps taken against the people of Sindh on all forums including elected assemblies. If our voice will not be heard in these forums then we reserve the right to peacefully protest and demonstrate. Addressing the elected representatives he said, “the people of Sindh have elected you and sent you to the Assemblies – now it is your responsibility to raise the voice of the people of Sindh in these Assemblies. I have always worked for collective interests and I am confident that you would use your best efforts and skills for the rights of the people of Sindh and raise the issue of Thal Canal at every forum.”