Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday, April 19—25, 2008
By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD: The affected people of Diamer-Basha Dam in Gilgit-Baltistan staged a protest demonstration outside Parliament House in Islamabad for acceptance of their demands.
Led by Haji Ghandal Shah and Himayatullah, secretary-general of Diamer-Bhasha Dam Action Committee, the protestors assembled outside the parliament building before the start of the National Assembly session. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with anti-Wapda slogans
Addressing the protestors, Senator Maulana Samiul Haq said he would raise the issue in the upper house and every effort would be made to take the matter to the National Assembly.
Former federal minister for minorities affairs, J. Salik also met the protestors and chanted slogans with them. Speaking on the occasion, he said violations of rights of poor people would not be tolerated. He said he would continue speaking for the marginalized section of society till their rights were safeguarded.
PML-N member National Assembly Dr Tariq Chaudhry, assured the protestors that the coalition government would try to find solution to every problem through negotiations. He said he would talk to the Kashmir affairs and Northern Areas minister regarding the dam issue.
Member National Assembly from Kohistan Mehbubullah Khan also assured the protestors that he would take up the matter with federal minister for Northern Areas Qamaruz Zaman Kaira.
Later, the MNA while talking on a point of order in the house drew the attention of the chair towards the protest outside the house.
The minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas affairs in his address said as a new democratic government had come to power, the problems of the masses would be resolved and nobody would be marginalized. He further said he would announce a policy on the region during his visit to Gilgit soon.
Hajji Ghandal Shah while addressing the protestors said the affectees of Diamer-Bhasha dam were not being given proper compensation and to rub salt on the wounds the local people of Diamer were not even allowed to attend the inaugural ceremony of the dam. He threatened that if the issue was not settled, they would block the Karakoram Highway and would go to any extent toachieve their rights.
Himayatullah demanded that any decision regarding the dam should be made after taking into confidence the affected people. He said Wapda was trying not to implement the presidential package besides keeping the compensation cases in the cold storage. He demanded that a separate sector be constructed in Islamabad for the affectees of Basha Dam and the implementation of the presidential package be ensured. The protestors later dispersed peacefully after submitting the following demands to the minister of Kashmir affairs and Northern Areas.