Kalabagh dam verdict triggers heated debate in National Assembly
By: WAQAR LILLAH
The National Assembly on Tuesday plunged into a heated debate over the Lahore High Court verdict on the construction of the Kalabag dam with the PPP parliamentarians terming the judgement controversial, accusing the Sharif brothers of politicising the issue.
PPP parliamentarians wondered how Nawaz Shairf and Shahbaz Sharif could think of developing a national consensus when three provincial assemblies – Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – had passed unanimous resolutions against the construction of the controversial dam.
On a point of order, Shazia Marri, a PPP lawmaker, said that the dam’s construction was against the people’s will and raising the issue at any forum by any quarter was nothing but an attempt at creating confusion. Rejecting the PML-N demand for developing national consensus on the issue, she said that resolutions passed by three provincial assemblies should be considered the national consensus, which left no room for doubt.
On another point of order, PPP’s Mir Gul Muhammad Khan Jakhrani condemned the LHC judgement, saying that a majority of Pakistan’s population, including that of Punjab, was opposed to the dam’s construction. According to him, the dam’s construction amounted to eroding the foundations of national cohesion, destroying inter-provincial harmony and creating socio-economic problems for Sindh. He urged the federal government to abandon this project in the larger interest of the people of Sindh. Khwaja Saad Rafique, a veteran PML-N legislator, on a point of order advised the treasury benches to respect the dignity of the house and state institutions before passing statements. Rejecting the impression that the PML-N supported the dam’s construction, he said that the PML-N had nothing to do with the court judgement.
However, he said, the party believed that a national consensus should be developed before arriving at any conclusion on the issue. Saad Rafique maintained that PML-N’s stance was ‘crystal clear’ on the construction of the Kalabagh dam. The party, he said, wanted that the dam should be constructed after developing a national consensus.
Maulana Attaur-Rahman of JUI-F criticised the Ministry of Foreign, saying that Pakistan’s Washington Embassy had recently called Qadianis (Ahmedis) Muslims, contrary to the 1973 Constitution, which clearly termed Qadianis non-Muslims. He urged the government to take notice of the incident and take immediate action against officials concerned. Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar assured the house that the government would look into the matter and would take necessary action against officials who violated Pakistan’s Constitution. He said that there was “no doubt that Qadianis are non-Muslims in the light of the 1973 Constitution”.
Replying on a call-attention notice moved by Abdul Haq Mian Mitha, Dr Darshan and others regarding the stoppage of 5 per cent allowance to labourers out of the annual profit of factory owners, PPP’s Syed Khrushid Shah said that the incumbent government always promoted worker-friendly policies.