Protests in Pakistan over China-backed Sindh projects

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Several political parties, mainly the Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party (STTP), launched protests across the country against the Imran Khan government’s plan to develop the twin islands of Dingi and Bhundar. There are allegations that China might undertake construction activities in these islands.

The port city of Karachi was rocked by the protest.  A group of thousands of people, Sindh writers, poets, nationalists, intellectuals, and people of every thought denounced the occupation of the islands.

Another major rally started from Malir and ended near the Governor House where the party leadership submitted a letter for President Arif Alvi, showing the party’s concerns on the federal government’s recently promulgated ordinance to form the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA), which aims at developing the barren islands in the territorial waters of the country.

STTP chief Dr Qadir Maqsi, who led the rally, told the protesters that Sindh had been expressing their dismay and anger over the presidential ordinance.

“Despite differences in ideologies and party programmes, the Sindhis are united to protect their rights,” he said.

Mr Maqsi said the Sindhi community would not remain silent on the usurpation of Sindh’s rights. Other leaders said the development of Dingi and Bhandar islands was tantamount to destruction and would snatch the livelihood of at least 800,000 fishermen.

In the letter addressed to Alvi and submitted at the governor house, the STTP said Sindh had been victimised time and again by the federal government under the false pretence and unfound reasons.

Addressing Alvi, the letter said, “Sir, you must admonish the establishment to full its obligation under the constitutional domain in the distribution of fair share of NFC awards, as well as cooperation in administrative autonomy in Sindh.”

The letter regretted that instead of fulfilling such an honourable role as the head of the state, he had been acting as a spokesperson for the prime minister and conducting “extra-constitutional affairs”. The STTP said in the letter that PIDA’s establishment was an act against the country’s constitution.