Shahbaz Rules Out Compromise On Water
PUNJAB would not compromise on the issue of water and protect the rights of its farmers at all cost, vowed Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif on the floor of the Punjab Assembly on Thursday.
He also announced that the committee of the House would take up the case of Punjab before the prime minister.
Responding to the complaints, made by the members of the assembly regarding the Indus River System Authority’s role in depriving Punjab of its due water share and controversial closure of Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal, the CM asserted that the province would neither demand a ‘drop’ of water from any other province nor would it make any compromise over its share.
“Punjab has always played the role of the elder brother of other provinces but has not done that as a favour and it is ready to make any sacrifice for others but no compromise will be made on the water issue,” said the CM.
Shahbaz, in his nearly five minutes long speech on the third day of the 19th PA session, came hard on the dictatorial regimes for selling the interests of the federation. He said a dictator, who eventually died, sold the water of our rivers but the decision proved detrimental to the federal units, including Punjab and Sindh.
Calling for the need of unity, the CM said that the same spirit of harmony and sacrifice, which was displayed by the provinces on the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, once again needed to be exhibited over the water issue.
He said that the large-heartedness shown by Punjab over the NFC award was aimed at giving the credit for the unanimous approval of this award to democracy but unfortunately other provinces did not show the same spirit over the issue of water. He said protection of the rights of farmers of Punjab was the responsibility of the government and it would spare no effort in discharging its obligation in this regard.
The CM, while referring to the Water Accord of 1991, said the agreement reached with mutual understanding under the leadership of the then Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif was still the unanimous document regarding distribution of water among the provinces. He said Punjab wanted its share of water under the same agreement and had never made any claim over the share of any other province. Regarding the legislators’ criticism of the media the other day, the CM proposed that a special committee, comprising assembly members, should be formed to propose a strategy for resolving the issue with mutual consultation and understanding.
Earlier, Senior Minister Punjab Raja Riaz Ahmed condemned the closure of Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal and stated that though the canal had reopened yet its closure would not be allowed in future. He said that some one from Islamabad or Kashmir must represent the centre in Irsa, adding Punjab had demanded 13,000 cusecs water but was given only 10,000.
Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa, one of the senior most parliamentarians of Punjab, on a point of order stated that 4.5 million acres area of Punjab was irrigated by the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal but some members of Irsa wanted to turn the huge area into barren land.
Sardar Moshin Leghari, a PML-Q legislator from Dera Ghazi Khan, who had been a vociferous critic of the CJ Link canal’s closure since its beginning, stated that he had been conveying his apprehensions regarding the issue in the House but not much attention was paid towards him.
He said both Raja Riaz and Zulfiqar Khosa were sent to Karachi in February and they surrendered southern Punjab’s water share and agreed to closing of Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal. Mohsin Leghari also stated that he was labelled a ‘traitor’ by Raja Riaz when he had raised the issue earlier on the floor. He also remarked that the irrigation minister for the first time had said something sensible on the crucial water issue.