The government of Pakistan shelved the controversial Kalabagh dam project on May 27, 2008. Three provinces of Pakistan, other than Punjab, had strong reservations over the project. Musharraf, during his times announced to build the dam despite those reservations but could not. This was probably the first good move by the newly formed Government. Soon, after this news break out, it was heard that the PTI and JI held a demonstration / protest rally against this decision of the government. This was quite surprising as PTI has been saying for years that it does not support the project. Why this sudden change in the stance on this issue ?
Dr. Arif Alvi, Secretary General of the PTI answers
Press Release: Dr Arif Alvi the Secretary General of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has stated that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has had a consistent stand regarding the Kalabagh Dam since the inception of the party. In a discussion with the party coordinators and workers in a well attended meeting in Houston during his organisational visit to the USA he said that PTI and Mr Imran Khan have always stated that the Kalabagh Dam should not be built without provincial consensus. This issue was always on the back burner because of lack of such consensus which is evident from the fact that the provincial assemblies of all the smaller provinces have passed numerous resolutions rejecting the dam. Dr Alvi said that there is no change in PTI policy because we believe in provincial harmony which is much more important than the debatable merit of this dam. However as we are a democratic party there will always be different opinions on a lot of issues but the central policy has been consistent.
Dr Alvi said that the PTI has been severely critical of the power and water shortage and the policies of previous governments in this regard. We also have a food shortage today which among other things is related to shortage of water. There are many other dams possible which do not invite inter-provincial reservations and acrimony. Other water conservation methods used throughout the world should also be given priority such as the lining of canals and drip irrigation. PTI believes that if necessary steps are taken now Pakistan can be in a very comfortable position, and can even become a major exporter of food and grain. Drip irrigation alone as compared to flood irrigation saves 90% of the water and additionally increases crop yield particularly of cotton by almost a 100%.
Dr Alvi said that as 23 % of our GDP and 42% of our work force is related to agriculture, there can be a remarkable change in Pakistan if we stop focusing on controversial issues and take advantage of available technology to improve our critical water situation and become a major producer of food, first to feed our own people and then export the surplus. The way oil benefitted the Middle East, agriculture can benefit Pakistan as agricultural produce has become a very expensive commodity. This strategy can pay huge dividends and will lead to a very prosperous Pakistan.
Dr Arif Alvi