Floods in Sindh

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Coverage of Houston SANA Convention in Daily Times, Lahore


Sindhis demand ‘unadulterated democracy’

WASHINGTON: The Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) has called for “unadulterated democracy” in Pakistan, just distribution of water and finacial resources, and provincial autonomy as envisioned in 1940.

These and other resolutions were passed at SANA’s 20th annual convention in Houston. The group also condemned political and sectarian killings and expressed concern over the worsening law and order situation in the urban and rural areas of Sindh as well as other parts of Pakistan. The two-day meeting was attended by hundreds of Sindhis, several of whom had travelled from Canada, Europe and Pakistan.

The convention was also addressed by two American scholars, Dr Allen Keith Jones and Dr Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, While the former shared his findings about pre-1947 politics in the subcontinent, the latter made an audio-visual presentation on the pre-historic Indus Valley civilisation dating back to 7500 BC. He is excavating and working at Harrappa and other sites of interest.

Dr Fehmida Hussain, Director of Shah Latif Chair at the University of Karachi, presided over the literary session. Short story writer Mushtaq Shoro was the principal guest. Ms Noorunnisa Ghanghro spoke on women writers in Sindhi literature. Folk singer Shazia Khushk from Pakistan performed at an evening concert of Sindhi music.

SANA said Pakistan is being ruled under a dictatorial, One-Unit regime where the aspirations of people have been ignored and a large population disenfranchised. Non-representative governments have been imposed at the centre and in Sindh. It demanded an end to controlled democracy, abolition of the National Security Council and an end to army and intelligence intervention in electoral and civilian affairs.

The group expressed concern over the water crisis in Sindh, where some areas, it said, are facing up to 85 percent shortage as admitted by the Sindh irrigation department officials in a recent briefing to the provincial assembly members recently. The report that the irrigated land has been reduced by about 50 percent is a colossal setback to Sindh’s economy where agriculture is the major source of livelihood. Water shortage has played havoc with human and animal lives and the eco system. Even drinking water is in short supply.

SANA said the construction of any new dams on the Indus River and the completion of the Greater Thal Canal would be a death warrant for agriculture in Sindh. The convention said it holds the federal government, the Indus River System Authority, IRSA, WAPDA and a powerful lobby in the upper riparian province directly responsible for the crisis.

It called for water distribution among the provinces according to the 1945 Sindh-Punjab Agreement. It said no new mega dams or canals should be constructed unless an internationally recognized body determines the quantity of water available in the Indus River System and until the lower riparian province gives its assent. It also called for due certification from Sindh for the operation of the Chashma-Jehlum and Taunsa-Panjnad link canals. The Mangla Dam, it added,
should only be filled when there is no shortage of water in the lower riparian.

SANA decried the continuing commission of crimes against women and minorities and an end to Karo Kari and the “horrible Jirga system that perpetuates the feudal system.”

While calling for greater allocation to education, the convention expressed disappointment at the delay in the finalisation of the NFC award for the just distribution of financial resources among provinces. It said the NFC award should be based on revenue collection with Sindh, and given 67 percent, which was its rightful due.

It called for a cut in military expenditure and proper scrutiny of the defence budget by parliament.

The session called for provincial autonomy to be granted on the basis of the 1940 resolution. It also called for an end to demographic changes in Sindh and Balochistan and the repatriation of “illegal aliens.”

It also called for an end to allotment of agriculture, commercial and other lands to army personnel and other outsiders in Sindh and Balochistan. Such allotments should be cancelled and the land allotted to the local landless people. ....khalid hasan

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