by Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: India’s reservation over the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha Dam has triggered a sharp reaction in Gilgit-Baltistan, with people asking India not to meddle in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
“We dismiss India’s unjustified objections. We have no objection to the construction of a dam in our area,” a delegation comprising local elders Wali Rehman, Sher Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Sabir Shah from Diamer told reporters in Gilgit on Sunday.
The people of Diamer, who have already offered their land for the construction of the proposed dam, were the first to raise voice against the Indian connection that led the World Bank into cancelling the allocation of funds for the establishment of the dam. The delegation termed the World Bank’s approach ‘biased’ and being based on unjustified grounds.
“The World Bank must not take a decision arbitrarily in this regard,” a member of the delegation said, adding that India had already constructed several dams in the disputed territory, denying Pakistan its due share of water.
Attaullah Shahab, a sitting member of the Gigilt-Baltistan Council and a leader of JUI-F, expressed surprise over Indian reservation saying that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had unconditionally acceded to Pakistan 60 years back therefore India had no right to object on what “we are doing inside our territory.”
“If India can build dams in the disputed territory, why can’t Pakistan?” he said. Shahab said the World Bank’s decision was tantamount to turning Pakistan into an uncultivable country.
Shireen Fatima, a member of the legislative assembly, suggested that the Pakistan government should seek Chinese assistance for the construction of the dam if the World Bank is hesitant in releasing the money. “We shouldn’t delay this project at any cost. Instead we should contact our neighbour China for financial assistance,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2010.