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Judging from the history of water management and power generation projects in Pakistan over the last 30 years, dams are difficult.


HunzaNews March 15th, 2014

Despite the country fast approaching a situation where it will become water-poor, and there being a drought in Sindh, the matter of dams produces nothing but controversy, and not one watt of power, not one drop of productively-managed water. The latest row to beset the construction of a dam relates to a long-standing territorial dispute between Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and the Diamer-Bhasha dam. There is a stretch of land about 10 kilometres long that separates Kohistan from G-B. The disputed land is demarcated for acquisition as part of the Diamer-Bhasha project and is just one of the seemingly innumerable unresolved disputes that rage around this vital project.

The G-B Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on March 13, alleging that K-P has made an unauthorised encroachment close to a particular check post. The G-B minister for works has pushed the envelope a little further by saying that the federal government should pack its bags and leave if it is uninterested in resolving the issues affecting local people. Tempers boiled over recently resulting in a clash between residents of the Diamer valley and Kohistan that left seven dead and dozens injured. Territorial disputes, large and small, are endemic to G-B, where ancient inter-valley feuds and rivalries are being played out in the modern era, much to the detriment of development across the region. At the bottom of the current frictions lies the ambiguous constitutional status of G-B. Pakistan is desperate for dams. Water conservation, energy generation and flood prevention are all vital to our future. The state cannot afford to be held hostage for the sake of unresolved local disputes over the construction of the Diamer-Bhasha dam. It is to be hoped that the boundary commission is able to resolve the matter during the 40-day ceasefire that has run since March 1. Water poverty presents an existential threat and averting that threat has to be a priority.


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