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Sindh blames Pakistan’s Punjab for looming drought in the province

People in Sindhi protest against water shortage and other issues (Photo: Jeay Sindh Freedom Movement)

The Sindh province of Pakistan is facing an acute shortage of water, threatening crops and affecting the human population. The water situation has turned so bad that Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has appealed to farmers not to cultivate rice.

Pakistani newspaper Business Recorder reports that crops have started dying and "it has become difficult for humans and cattle to quench their thirst in the face of drought-like conditions in the district. Livestock has started perishing here and people have started migrating to other areas".

G. Hussain Shebrani, Central General Secretary, Jeay Sindh Freedom Movement said: "Punjab has made Sindh barren by constructing Kala Bagh Dam, Bhasha Dam, Thal Canal and other canals on the Indus River. Crops are destroyed and people are starving in Sindh due to lack of water. Millions of acres of land in three districts of Sindh, Thatta, Badin and Karachi are being eroded due to Punjab's looting on the Indus River".

In a press release, the Jeay Sindh Freedom Movement said that the international community should take notice of water theft on the Indus by Punjab province.

The mounting crisis has opened up other wounds in Sindh, besides the usual nationalist sentiments. Sindhi organisations are holding protests over the immense shortage of water, blaming Punjab province for causing misery to Sindhis.

The Sindhi Porhiyat Sangat (SPS), organised a protest in Larkana over water problems, listing out other issues vexing the Sindhis. Various Sindhi leaders said that Punjab had been forcibly stealing Sindh’s water for nearly a hundred years. They even alleged that the colonial British government in 1945 had resolved the water issue but the construction of hundreds of dams and canals by Pakistani rulers have deprived Sindh of its legitimate share of water.

SPS alleged that Punjab has constructed dams on the rivers for generating hydro-power because of which Sindh is facing problems. Besides water shortage, their other fear was the relocation of foreigners, particularly Afghans, and allowing them to vote and buy property in Sindh. The organisation alleged that Sindhis are facing a demographic change because of "resettlement of aliens".

The Sindh chief minister has acknowledged the severe shortage of water. He blamed the water crisis over unequal distribution of water between Punjab and Sindh. Shah also said that he will take up the matter with the federal government.