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Dams are Vital, but at what cost?

03 January, 2006

By Ahmer Muzammil


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 The Casanova of Pakistani politics, one Mr. Mustafa Khar (former Governor of Punjab) has recently said that, Kalabagh if erected by force (there is really no other way) and without consensus will result in the demise of Pakistan`s federation. I truly doubt that politicians who oppose this dam give a damn about how crucial it is for Pakistan (read Punjab) in general. I don`t even think they oppose it because they truly believe its bad for the people of their own constituency, I say that because most politicians who are opposing it are not smart enough to understand the entire dynamics of this project. Kalabagh at this point is a clash of egos. Two elephants fighting if you will, and when two elephants fight usually the grass is what gets ruined, which is we the populous of this unfortunate country. It`s ironic that the debate of this Kalabagh issue has been rekindled around the same time of the anniversary of Suqoot-e-Dhaka (inception of Bangladesh). 

  Our beloved Generalissimo is adamant that he will go ahead with the project with all his military might if necessary. I have no doubt whatsoever that Pervaiz Musharaf is a patriotic Pakistani. I also believe that he sincerely wants to do well for Pakistan, I don`t even think that he is corrupt in financial sense either. The problem that I see is the fact that he seems to think he has infinite wisdom and therefore everyone should just take his word for it IN EVERYTHING. This stubbornness and self-righteousness is enormously detrimental to democracy at large and is ruining the institutions since all the power is confided in one person. It`s because of this un-supervised extreme power that he sometimes exudes the jewels like the one he boasted regarding bombing balochistan in stone ages. Now he will take on not one, not two but all three provinces at once, Punjab on one side and the rest of the country on the other. What a pretty picture this is, isnít it? In addition to earth quakes,
 corruption, mis-management of resources and now why not open this Pandora`s box?  Sometimes I wonder that the lord above must really like us, because it`s a miracle that Pakistan is still floating about even though the powers to be have done everything in their power to loose it all.
  
  No one in their sane state of mind can deny the obvious fact that we as a nation need to come up with ideas that will ensure the water supply for future generations. The best way known to mankind at this point in time to deliver that objective is Dams. So we all agree that Dams are necessary, essential, dire, however you want to stress it. We all get that! But the problem is that the establishment is hell-bent on this spot of the Kalabagh, which is the point of contention with the rest of the three provinces. As much as I have researched on this particular topic, let me be the first to accept the fact that I still don`t understand diddly about it. But from what I have read the province that will be adversely affected the most would be frontier, henceforth the discontent (Don`t mess with the pashtoons!). Sind is also weary of establishment, the most common perception amongst the sindhis is that establishment will do anything and everything that will benefit Punjab, never mind that it will be at the cost of other provinces. Whether that perception is right or wrong, depends on your own prejudice. But the fact remains that common-folk of the province of Punjab has no say in this decision nor they are the ones that will benefit financially, neither the majority populous of Punjab would ever insist on a project that would put a hardship on their brethren in frontier and Sind. It`s the establishment, landlords and their military counterparts that are gung-ho on building this Dam, because mostly of their personal gains. It`s quite amazing however how these hypocrites transform their personal agendas in to Patriotic rhetoric. Tax-evaders, Bank-defaulters, land-grabbers, tyrants, ruthless landlords ordering mass rape of poor women, everything is kosher as long as you are on the right side of the political-divide, if this is enlightened moderation, let me continue being a darkened fundamentalist.
  
  One should take heart from the fact that the most intellectuals and politicians from Punjab realize the fact that this Kalabagh Dam can cause a serious rift in already deteriorating ties between Punjab and the smaller provinces, this can`t be good for any patriotic Pakistani. Peoples party, Muslim League (N), MMA, Imran khan`s tehreek-e-Insaaf, MQM (even though they are Musharaf`s Boys right now) etc., by and large almost all major political players are against this Dam by force. I think this realization is the stark difference between this situation and the one we faced in 1971, and it just might save us. In 1971 the entire west Pakistani psyche was of the opinion that our brothers and sisters in east Pakistan were traitors for merely asking for their due right. It was that stubbornness and empty patriotic drum beating that was the final nail in the coffin then. 
  
  The time and energy that we have wasted on Kalabagh (to no avail mind you), could have easily been materialized towards building a Dam on Bhasha or Skardu, where feasibilities have been completed and more importantly all concerned are at serenity. Why it hasnít happened, well for the same reasons (among others) that Mr. president didn`t take off his uniform after promising the nation on National Television, for the same reason he trashed his own ideology of accountability by sleeping with the same bank-defaulters and robbers that he presumably came in power to eradicate. The reason is always `NATION`S BEST INTEREST`! Unfortunately nation at large never really have a say in what that interest should be. Welcome to the insanity that is Pakistan.

End.

Reader Comments:

Dams are Vital

Majority of the public in Pakistan are very understanding and do reallise that if there is no sufficient water no Food, no electricity on cheap rate and no water for growing industry of that fast developing country in Asia who had a growth of 8.4% last year, second to China. Its just made up of an issue and ego may be coming into it but Gen. Musharaf who is not corrupt will certainly listen to masses not a hand full of corrupt politicians who will lose a lot when they are unable to make any kick backs.
Gen. Musharaf does understand well the needs of the country and future in mind to construct Dams and other mega project will provide jobs for unemployed and economy will pick up many folds more. Look at the KSE around 10000 which indicates that government is best comparing with previous so called political dictators who minted money and living in exile. Let the country develop for the poor people. Show your ability and work for the nation not for your greed because this time you have no chance.NATION`S BEST INTEREST comes first for a man who is in Uniform. I salute him for his outstanding work he is doing for Pakistanis. Wish you succeed in your plans.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 05 January, 2006

Dams are Vital

Here in the province of British Columbia, Canada most of the electricity that is generated comes from hydroelectric dams, which our ancestors had the foresight to construct. Hydroelectric dams are a renewable, non-polluting source of energy, and can even store energy for future demand by pumping water backwards. In my opinion, any attempt to hinder the building of hydroelectric dams is short-sighted to say the least. What are you going to do when oil costs $200/barrel?

Ya`akov N. Miles, Canada - 07 January, 2006

First of all im a pakistani student studying in america. i would like to tell Mr Ahmer Muzammil that first of all if musharraf failed to keep his promise about the uniform issue it was completely in the interest of pakistan...it looks like you were very happy with leaders like benazir and nawaz sharif...why whould not musharraf go for building kalabagh..infact i say what the hell was the need to let the issue be raised amongst the public only for those MMA people who have beards till their knees and shalwars upto their thighs make another issue just for another failed publicity stunt...regarding the skardu damn have you ever realised it is withn five minuots of indian airforces range,,,,and the dam which would submerge all of skardu if destoryed would effect every big city of pakistan whoc would bleed the country to death...instead of bashing musharraf maybe you should divert your attention and time to some of the economic statistics which have all considerably improved since 1999..and one more thing please refrain from calling musharraf a military dictator because he is not. he is a military leader...if he was a dictator you would not have reached your comfortable home after bashing musharraf like this...a dictator is saddam hussein...i want to write so much more about your poor article but i dont have the time to waste on it....so one last thing instead of wining about such issues and creating further public discontent you guys should be playing your role in telling the people of pakistan how they would benefit from the construction of such dams...there is no difference in the media and those mullah issuing countless fatwas here and there

Asfar Siddiqui, United Kingdom - 09 January, 2006

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