Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum along with Arts Council of Pakistan organized a conference on “Free flowing rivers and personhood rights of Indus River” in Karachi on Thursday.
Addressing the event Chairman of PFF Syed Muhammad Ali Shah said that we are putting efforts to get fundamental human rights for Indus River to protect it from the damages we ourselves have brought on to it. He said that there are threats to ecology of water bodies and to the land, hence this campaign for rights of rivers and wetlands may hopefully mitigate those perils. Shah announced the demands for River Indus stating, “River Indus has all rights to flow freely, it must be bestowed with personhood rights and mangroves forest should be restored”.
President of Awami Jamhori Party Vishnomal, Advocate Khaliq Junejo and Ecologist Nasir Punwar also presented their opinions in the dialogue.
A civil society activist Zulfiqar Ali Halipoto said that the world is reaching to a holistic and regional approach towards water scarcity but we are politicizing this issue which needs timely attention. Zulfiqar added that Tarbela and Mangla Dams have a capacity of storing 18 MF water while 95 MF water goes to canal system but there is a concept that this canal water gets wasted. “If we keep on insisting to make mega dams, Indus River will be no more” warned Zulfiqar.
Gul Hasan Kalmati enlightened the audience with International Rivers Day historical importance and told, “Brazil hosted a conference in 1998 where International Rivers Day was first celebrated”. Kalmati was of the view that the culture and civilization of Sindh flows with Indus River and it must be preserved. With increasing water scarcity in Sindh, the future of 3.5 million fishermen is in danger. Chairman Folk & Heritage Committee Dr.Ayub Sheikh expressed his views saying, “We have built dam and barrages over Indus River and caged its water which has destroyed delta and brought socio-ecological consequences.
We need to resolve this issue with utmost importance or else there will only be barren and arid land left for us to cry over”. The conference was attended by fisherfolk, peasant’s community, civil society activists, academia and legislators.