Water issue graver than terrorism: Lawmakers

Say India conspiring to make Pakistan barren | KBD reverberates in NA | PPP lawmaker tables motion to de-seat PM under Article 64 over his absence from assembly for over 40 days

ISLAMABAD - Several lawmakers from the treasury and the Opposition benches in the National Assembly on Tuesday expressed concern over construction of dams by India on the waters of Pakistan, cautioned the water issue was even more serious than terrorism and required immediate measures to tackle it.
The legislators from both the sides of the aisle, on the first private members’ day of the 8th session, came up with different proposals, including construction of small dams, review of Indus Water Treaty and saving of floods water, etc.
Some of the opposition members even termed it more serious than terrorism, proposing to call an all parties conference (APC) to debate the future water scarcity matter in length.
Taking part in the debate on the issue of construction of dams by India, Javed Ali Shah suggested reviewing Indus Water Treaty in length. “This must be the first priority as it is even more serious than terrorism,” he added.
Naeema Kishwar, on her turn, suggested that there was a need to focus on available resources in the country to save the water getting waste. She further opined to take up the matter of water with Afghanistan.
Shahida Rehmani, on the same issue, said it was being considered that the third world war will erupt on the water issue.”No need to depend on India, the rulers should focus on this issue,” she added.
Independent MNA Jamshed Dasti urged the government to construct Kalabagh Dam. “If someone is against Kalabgh, it could be renamed as Chittabagh, but its construction is necessary,” he added.
Taking the floor, Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Sherpao spoke at length against the construction of Kalabagh Dam, saying the three provincial assemblies had already passed a resolution against it. “Without consensus dams could not be built anywhere,” he asserted.
Another senior PPP lawmaker, Yousuf Talpur, also repeated the same reservation, saying the three provincial assemblies had passed a resolution against Kalabagh Dam.
Former NA speaker Fehmida Mirza proposed to call an all parties conference (APC) to discuss the water scarcity issue.
Ameer Haider Hoti from ANP said they were not in favour of Kalabagh Dam. “Why is there so much stress on the controversial dam?” he added.
Defending the sharp criticism from the lawmakers, Marvi Memon from the treasury benches told the House the government would not take any step without consensus of all the parties. “No need to worry, but you should also give some practical suggestions,” she said.
Another lawmaker proposed that water scarcity was one of the most pressing issues being faced by the country and there was a dire need to construct new dams with consensus. Some of them also termed it a conspiracy to barren Pakistan.
It was also suggested that the government should go for non-controversial water reservoirs to meet the irrigation needs. They said India was constructing dams on Pakistani waters, which would badly affect the industrial and agriculture sectors.
Earlier, three bills were introduced in the House and referred to the standing committees concerned. The bills are “Education of the holy Quran according to recitation by sighting and with translation‚ learning by heart and with correct pronunciation Bill,” “Constitution (Amendment) Bill‚ 2014,” and “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill‚ 2014.”
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill ‘Education of the Holy Quran according to recitation by sighting and with translation”, moved by JI lawmaker Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqaob‚ says it is needed that awareness and understanding of teachings and propagation of the holy Quran must be promoted among the general public.
The bill “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill‚ 2014” says there were 10 reserved seats for non-Muslims when the number of general seats was 207, which has now increased. The minorities strongly feel representation should be increased.
PPP lawmaker Imran Zafar Leghari, on a point of order, quoting Article 64 (Clause-2), said the prime minister had not been attending the NA proceedings for over last 40 days, so he should be de-seated. “I had submitted a motion to the NA Secretariat in this regard, but it was not included in the order of the day,” he added. Article 64 (Clause-2) says: “A House may declare the seat of a member vacant if, without leave of the House, he remains absent for 40 consecutive days of its sittings.”

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