Dispute over islands

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THE Sindh government on Tuesday asked the federal government to “immediately” withdraw an ordinance aimed at taking control of two islands along Karachi’s coast, saying the islands belonged exclusively to the people and the government of Sindh. At a press conference in Karachi, representatives of the provincial government said the Sindh cabinet had also decided not to hold any further discussion with the Centre regarding the development of the islands.
The controversy surrounding two islands is a typical example of good work done in a wrong manner and should serve as an eye-opener to do proper homework before embarking upon such ventures. President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated the Islands Development Authority Ordinance 2020 on August 31 under which the federal government took the custody of some islands, which legally were the provincial property, to launch mega commercial and housing schemes. Development of these islands on modern lines would serve multiple purposes – revenue both for federal and provincial governments, provision of job opportunities, creation of economic activity and contribution towards mitigation of housing shortage. Similar plans for utilization and development of islands around Karachi were announced in the past as well and lauded by all but they became victim to political wrangling and vested interests. History is being repeated in the case of two islands as an acrimonious blame-game is on between the Centre and the province. The Federal Government maintains the ordinance was issued after consent given by Land Utilization Department of Sindh regarding custody of the islands. On the other hand, Sindh Government claims the Centre disregarded the laid down parameters for development of land including islands. The Sindh government also laid out a condition that the terms and conditions of development projects on the islands would be shared with the provincial government and the interest of local population would be safeguarded. Investment to develop land or island should be considered a welcome development by all and hurdles and hiccups in realization of this cherished objective should be removed through discussion and dialogue. Ownership of the islands should not be made an issue and the matters should be resolved strictly in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the law.