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User Name: Mathal
Full Name: Dj Mathal
User since: 14/Apr/2008
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Before Diamer Dam is built

By Dj Mathal


After strong opposition to the Kalabagh dam, Pakistan announced to construct a mega dam on the Indus in the district of Diamer of the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan during the Pervez Musharraf regime. The cost of the project has been estimated at 12 billion dollars and about 4,500 megawatts electricity is expected to be produced after completion of the dam.

 However, it is also feared that the dam would destroy and submerge the whole historical heritage of the region including the statues of Ashoka and Budha. Besides thousands of people inhabiting numerous villages in the area will be displaced not to speak of destruction and degradation of environment in the shape of cutting of thousands of tress and destruction of local flora and fauna. This will result in the deterioration of homelessness, unemployment and poverty so rampant in the region.

The government of Pakistan had appealed to almost all international monetary and lending agencies to provide it funds for construction of the dam but almost all of them have refused to do so. However, the decision of the Asian Development Bank is of a very technical nature when we look at the socio-economic deprivation of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. In a communication to the government of Pakistan, the Asian Development Bank has maintained that Gilgit-Baltistan is a disputed region between India and Pakistan and if the latter gets a unanimous resolution passed from its parliament in support of the dam and there is no opposition left to the project from any quarter it will provide funds for the mega project.

The decision and stand of the ADB will surely lessen the tension which the project has created amongst the people of Diamer district in particular. This will also make it impossible for Pakistan to go ahead with the construction of the dam in the region. The days are over when Pakistan maneuvered its decisions in the region through highhandedness and use of force in the absence of popular and strong voice in the support of the local people.

Now we understand that the ADB has fulfilled its moral obligation as far as the controversial project was concerned and it is up to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to adopt a strategy against the project keeping in view their national interest and socio-economic survival. We want that if at all a dam is to be constructed it should not be at the cost of a nation’s survival. This is despite the fact that thousands of megawatts of electricity produced from the dam would be utilized by the people of the region. Citizens whether they are of Pakistan or Gilgit-Baltistan should have equal rights in national matters. Is this justice that for the economic benefit of one nation another should sacrifice even the graves of their forefathers? The right to take a decision about development and future of Gilgit-Baltistan rests with the people of the region. God has gifted Gilgit-Baltistan with plenty of natural resources and it is now the responsibility of the masses to utilize the resources for their collective good.

Before construction of the dam, the inhabitants of about 32 villages in the project sites have to be rehabilitated properly. Much work will be needed to carry out regarding satisfactory rehabilitation of the affected people including construction of houses and creation of employment for them as well as arrangement for education of their children. The launching of the project would not be possible before all these steps for the affected people are not taken. More importantly, an agreement should be signed with the people of the region for payment of royalty before work starts on the project. It should be kept in mind that no project can be executed without taking the area people into confidence. The days to use force for implementation of state decisions on a people are long gone. It is not even possible for Pakistan to create another Balochistan in the region. Besides other apprehension about the project, the dam construction will also put far-reaching consequences on the environment of Gilgit-Baltistan. In view of all negative effects, we also believe that even the parliament of Pakistan will not take the risk of going ahead with the project that not only threaten the survival of the people of the region but could also put the future of Pakistan at stake. Apart from it, Gilgit-Baltistan has no representation in the parliament of Pakistan and, therefore, there is no rationale that the latter takes a decision about the future of an area which is even not part of it. For this people of Gilgit-Baltistan have to be given constitutional and legal rights in a true manner or an agreement will have to be signed with the people in this regard. Only in this way the consent of the local people can be taken and their basic rights safeguarded.

Therefore, before construction of the Diamer dam, all the stakeholders should come to a negotiating table to resolve the issue in a peaceful manner without using force or any other illegal and unconstitutional way. 




Needed a social contract


After formation of the PPP government in Pakistan, the jiyaley in Gilgit-Baltistan have been anxious to grab powers in the region and in this regard have started campaigns to hoodwink the local people by raising the mantra of a package. It is strange that hollow claims are being made to end all the deprivations of the last 62 years, give the masses of this region all their rights and introduce an AJK-like setup here. But the cat never comes out of the bag.

It is also a fact that even the local PPP leadership is unaware of the nature of the so-called package which in any way to be prepared by the rulers sitting in Islamabad. It is unfortunate that every time there are elections on the corner, opportunists come into the fore with tall claims and the innocent people are hoodwinked to vote for them. It is surprising that a nation is treated like the employees of a factory promising them good salaries and perks. The issue is not of packages, but of a social contract. We believe that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan should not be taken for granted any more and they should be given their basic rights through a social contract with them without any further delay.


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