Bangladesh and Pakistan

By Prof. Dr. Sajid Khakwani

Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. The capital (and largest city) is Dhaka, which is the hub of all cultural, political and religious affairs. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal.

It is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the D-8 and BIMSTEC(Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation), and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Bangladesh is a unitary state (governed as one single unit ) and parliamentary democracy. Direct elections in which all citizens, aged 18 or over, can vote are held every five years for the unicameral parliament. Currently the parliament has 345 members including 45 reserved seats for women, elected from single-member constituencies. The Prime Minister, as the head of government, forms the cabinet and runs the day-to-day affairs of state. While the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President, he or she must be an MP who commands the confidence of the majority of parliament. The President is the head of state but mainly a ceremonial post elected by the parliament. The Constitution of Bangladesh was drafted in 1972 and has undergone 14 amendments. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court. Judges are appointed by the President.

Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy that places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. In 1974 Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations and has since been elected to serve two terms on the Security Council in 19781979 and 20002001. In the 1980s, Bangladesh played a lead role in founding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in order to expand relations with other South Asian states. Since the founding of SAARC 1985, a Bangladeshi has held the post of Secretary General on two occasions.

Bangladesh enjoys relatively warm ties with the People’s Republic of China which has, particularly in the past decade, increased economic cooperation with the South Asian nation. Between 2006 and 2007, trade between the two nations rose by 28.5% and there have been agreements to grant various Bangladeshi commodities tariff-free access to the Chinese market. Cooperation between the Military of Bangladesh and the People’s Liberation Army is also increasing, with joint military agreements signed and Bangladesh procuring Chinese arms which range from small arms to large naval surface combatants such as the Chinese Type 053H1 Missile Frigate.

A major source of tension between Bangladesh and India is the Farakka Dam. In 1975, India constructed a dam on the Ganges River 18 km from the Bangladeshi border. Bangladesh alleges that the dam diverts much needed water from Bangladesh and adds a man-made disaster to the country already plagued by natural disasters. The dam has had terrible ecological consequences. There are so many other sources of tension between the nations. India has voiced concerns about anti-Indian separatists and Islamic militants. The same two factors are bone of content in between Pakistan and India. India has ever disliked country for all the neighboring countries.

Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural floods, tornados and cyclones. Also, there is evidence that earthquakes pose a threat to the country. Evidence shows that tectonics have caused rivers to shift course suddenly and dramatically. It has been shown that rainy-season flooding in Bangladesh, on the worlds largest river delta, can push the underlying crust down by as much as 6 centimeters. Bangladesh is now widely recognized to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural hazards that come from increased rainfall, rising sea levels, and tropical cyclones are expected to increase as climate changes, each seriously affecting agriculture, water & food security, human health and shelter. It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea level alone will create more than 20 million climate refugees. Bangladeshi water is contaminated with arsenic frequently because of the high arsenic contents in the soil.

Being members of OIC Pakistan & Bangladesh are two brother countries. The people of both of the countries are one nation and have very strong bonds of Muslim brother hood. Pakistan and Bangladesh are part of Sub-Continent; due to this territorial relativity both of the countries have almost same interests to meet and same challenges to face. Especially Pakistan & Bangladesh are not in the good books of India. In several times India has given tuff times to the both of the brother countries and these two countries have very good and ideal relations with China. So with the same interests and same challenges, same enemy and same friend are some of the so many common matters of friend ship between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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Govt asked to abandon Tarbela revival plans, focus on KBD

The Punjab Forum on Monday asked to abandon plans to revive Tarbela dam spending billions of dollars and focus on construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) which will cost less and last longer than any other dam in the country.

An independent Chinese consultant hired by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to conduct a feasibility study for desilting the Tarbela reservoir has given opinion that desilting is not an economically or technically viable option.

His report clearly states that such a move can damage the countrys largest power house and reservoir, said Baig Raj, President Punjab Forum.

In a statement issued here today, he said that Tarbela which was completed in 1978 has already lost 30 per cent capacity to 6.6 million acre feet to silting over the years.

The report says that instead of undertaking such a massive exercise it would be more economical to build a new dam of the same size and capacity which has left government with little options to delay construction of KBD, one of the most viable projects in Pakistan, he added.

Mr. Baig Raj said that Tarbela dam has an estimated lifespan of 50 years; it would complete its designed life by 2029 while KBD has a life of 450 years.

Pakistans per capita water availability had already gone below 975 cubic metres per person from 5100 cubic meters in 1960 which is a great threat to industry, agriculture and masses which not only required urgent steps but it should act as a wakeup call for politicians opposing KBD.

Mr. Raj furthered that according to 1960 treaty Pakistan was to build a dam of the size of Tarbela at least every decade but governments failed to make a single dam despite resources which indicate lack of interest in securing countrys future.

Dams are built the world over to overcome water shortages and not to create them. The Mangla Dam brought green revolution, the Tarbela Dam increased water supply to the canal network by 25 per cent while Sindh got an additional seven million acre feet of water.

According to the findings of provincial Irrigation department, Sindh stands to get 2.2 million acre feet from Kalabagh, he said.

The President of Punjab Forum said that KBD is neither a technical nor a political issue, rather it is a humanitarian matter related to national survival which is being delayed by some politicians and so called experts to damage the federation on the directions of enemies of Pakistan.

Govt asked to foil Indian designs to turn Pakistan into desert

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Tuesday asked the government to move International Court of Arbitration immediately to stop India from constructing illegal hydropower projects which to turn Pakistan into a desert.

It asked the Supreme Court to expose the hidden hand which has been delaying the Pakistans response to Indian violation of Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

Government has been delaying response to the construction of Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project since one year which amounts to facilitating Indian plot against Pakistan, said Dr. Murtaza Mughal, President PEW.

India has already constructed many dams including Baglihar and Kishanganga in violation of the IWT and now it has almost completed one of the highest hydropower project in the world on River Indus at Ladakh.

Similarly, India has almost finished construction work on Chuttak hydroelectric project on the River Suru, a tributary of Indus in the Kargil while it has initiated plan to construct nine more dams in Ladakh region.

Dr. Murtaza Mughal said that India is not only building dams with an amazing speed to destroy Pakistan but also sponsoring some politicians, nationalists, regionalists and pseudo-intellectuals to oppose Kalabagh dam to make Pakistan a failed state.

Amazingly, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, officials of the water and power ministry, ministry of environment and foreign affairs have failed to react in time which amounts to colluding with India, he observed.

He said that the water bureaucracy and always let India to complete illegal projects quietly denying Pakistan the option of counter-measures.

These projects would reduce the flow of River Indus which will badly damage masses, industry and agriculture of Pakistan.

Punjab Forum asks int’l HR bodies to push Pakistan for KBD contruction

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Punjab Forum on Sunday asked the international human rights organisations to push Pakistan for early construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) as delay is threatening the whole population of the country.

It appreciated the landmark decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in which it ordered the federal government to construct Kalabagh dam (KBD) terming it in the best interest of country and generations to come.

As per the observation of the Chief Justice LHC, Justice Umer Ata Bandial, who has emerged as hero of the people of Pakistan, the KBD can be renamed as Federation Dam, said Baig Raj, President of the Punjab Forum.

If name of a province can be renamed, the name of a dam critical for national survival can also be renamed, he noted.

Speaking at a meeting to review current situation, he expressed disappointment over statements of federal ministers against the LHC decision which indicate that the federal government is too much focused on politics and it will never abide by the decision.

Baig Raj said that Parliament has no respect for human rights which is contrary to their claims; he said adding that political parties which are against the KBD will lose public support in the upcoming elections in certain critical constituencies.

He said that time has come when provincial governments and so-called nationalists of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa and Sindh should realise that nothing can save them from remaining vulnerable to floods and becoming a desert if KBD is not built. A referendum is the two provinces can expose the claims of nationalists, he said.

Baig Raj said that patriot elements need to educate masses on the pros and cons of KBD mired in intense political controversy since decades, remove the cobwebs of ignorance, and save 200 million people from the hunger, thirst and poverty.

The federal government is constitutionally bound to start the project in the light of the Council of Common Interests decisions taken in 1991 and 1998; he said adding that lack of consensus on KBD amounts to playing with the future of Pakistan.

The politicians and pseudo-intellectuals who are opposing the dam are doing a great disservice to Pakistan and its people irrespective of where they live or to which province they belong, he observed.

Baig Raj said that prosperity of Pakistan is tied to KBD therefore all positive forces should join hands to tackle political and technical concerns of the project keeping national interest supreme.

The scarcity of water and power had affected the quality and security of life of the citizens which is a violation of their fundamental rights; therefore government should take immediate decision to improve the situation, he demanded.

Baig Raj said that anti-Pakistan lobbies have deliberately converted a purely technical and humanitarian issue into a political problem to harm country which worries of the people are unfounded.

Lashing out at the governments strategy of avoiding water sector development in order to save the federation from political pressures will eventually destroy the federation, he warned.

The government and its allies have no viable alternative to KBD ditched without a parliamentary debate which is making the problem more complex.

He said that USAID has been claiming to help Pakistan overcome energy crisis, they should try to influence ANP for the construction of KBD. He lauded to Pakistan Saraiki Party for supporting KBD.

Punjab Forum seek referendum in KPK over Kalabagh dam

Islamabad, MTT News Desk: The Punjab Forum on Wednesday said Pakistans survival is tied to early construction of Kalabagh dam (KBD) which is being delayed in the name of provincial harmony.

There should be some limits for so called inter-provincial harmony which is yet to be defined in clear terms, it said.

Mega power projects have been delayed due to reservations of international lenders while country continues to face worst load shedding and water crisis which is putting future of Pakistan at stake, said Baig Raj, President Punjab Forum.

We urgently need KBD, the most feasible power generation and water storage facility which is being ignored by the successive governments to keep some politicians happy, he added.

He said that energy and water crisis can only be resolved by constructing KBD; the most important and most politicalised and ill-fated project.

All the national and international experts have termed KBD one of the most feasible project but those on the top dont want to listen about it which amounts to sacrificing national interests for power, he added.

Baig Raj said that ruling coalition is focused on taking all coalition partners and some opposition leaders on-board which may be strengthening the democratic process but the policy is weakening Pakistan.

Reasons behind increasing poverty, hunger, crimes, reduced agricultural output, brain drain, flight of capital and shifting of industrial units to other countries include insufficient electricity and deficiency of irrigation water, he informed.

Those who are resisting the project are doing great disservice to country on the whims of foreign powers that want to see Pakistan as a failed state.

President of the Punjab Forum said that he dam would not benefit Punjab alone; it would also eradicate poverty from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and help boost output of Sindh.

A referendum in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the issue of dam will expose the claims of so called nationalists who are playing with an issue which is matter of life and death for 180 million people, he demanded.

It is neither technical nor political issue, rather it is issue relating to humanity and national survival.

He said that Pakistan cannot reach consensus to make a dam while India is in process of making hundreds of dams, adding that we should not allow the issue to cost the country and generations to come.

We will have no future if politicians continue to prefer personal welfare over national interests resulting in destructive consequences.

Enemy nations want to destroy Pakistan not through bullets but economically.

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