Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has said that his party will strongly oppose the “illegal annexation” of Sindh’s islands through a presidential ordinance by the PTI-led federal government.
“I ask how is this act different to [Indian PM] Modi’s actions in Occupied Kashmir? Move will be opposed in National, Provincial Assembly and the Senate,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle on Monday.
Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, while rejecting the ordinance, also said in a statement that the Islands belonged to the provincial government and Sindh’s land cannot be “occupied by any ordinance”.
“The land of these Islands belonged to the people of Sindh and it is rightfully theirs,” he said and demanded the immediate revocation of the ordinance which negated the rights of the people of Sindh.
President Dr Arif Alvi on September 1 promulgated the ordinance for establishing “Pakistan Islands Development Authority” for “development and management of islands in internal and territorial waters of Pakistan”.
Its ultimate objective was stated to be the development of cities on the islands. “Whereas the Senate and the National Assembly are not in session and the president of Islamic Republic is satisfied that circumstances exist, which render it necessary to take immediate action,” said the ordinance which emerged on social media on Friday.
The ordinance was received with shock in Sindh with regional newspapers carrying its news as their lead stories and a number of political leaders condemning the move and calling it an attempt to “encroach” on Sindh’s land.
Different nationalist parties, writers, intellectuals and poets also announced to launch a massive movement against the decision by organising rallies and demonstrations in various cities and towns if the decision was not taken back.
An official in Sindh government familiar with the matter said that federal authorities had intimated the Sindh government that mega city schemes worth $20 billion would be started on the islands. “The Sindh government claiming ownership of the island had said the ToR [terms of reference] of the schemes would be framed by the provincial government. But now an ordinance has surfaced,” he said.