Sindhis are furious over Pakistan’s forcible takeover of Sindh islands

Sindh is blessed with rich coastal belt situated in the south-western part of our country. It is spread over an area of 338 km, which is one of the largest areas of mangroves and the seventh largest delta in the world. There are approximately 300 small and big islands located on the Sindh coastal belt. Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi are the twin islands in this belt that are spread over an area of 12,000 acres. These twin Islands are at one hour ride from Karachi Sindh and are under ownership of Port Qasim Authority.

Pakistan’s federal government has always tried to take over the coastal belt of Sindh. However, as per the Pakistani constitution, the federal government has no authority to control or establish cities on Sindh’s islands or commission any other mega projects without permission of the Sindhi people or the Sindh government.

Article 172 of Pakistani Constitution which is about (Ownerless property) clearly says: Clause 1– Any property which has no rightful owner shall, if located in the province, vest in the government of that province and in every other case, in the federal government. Clause 2 – All lands, minerals and other things of value within the continental shelf or underlying the ocean (beyond) the territorial waters of Pakistan shall vest in the federal government.

Around 300 big and small islands are located on the Sindh coastal belt. These Sindh islands are home to rare plant and animal species.

This clearly shows that the federal government’s action is not only against the constitution of Pakistan, but also against international conventions and agreements which provide social, economic and cultural sovereignty to indigenous people as stated in the UN charter of UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). The Convention 169 states about FPIC (free, prior, informed, consent). of the indigenous people before enacting project on their land.

Pakistan federal government’s taking over the Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi islands through ordinance is a clear violations of basic human rights of Sindhi people. It’s a crime against historical Sindhi nation and their land.

Why is this issue being raised now?
The federal government of Pakistan had always tried to take over the coastal belt and these twin islands of Sindh. Even earlier in 2000 and 2006 during regime of military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf such attempts were made but Sindhi people strongly condemned these attempts and the projects were stopped. In 2019, PM Imran Khan visited China and finalized few deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping. One deal was about Diamer Basha Dam which is now part of CPEC (the people of Sindh have already rejected that project but government of Pakistan is continuously ignoring Sindhi people’s demands) and also a deal about these Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi islands and the coastal belt of Sindh.

China will invest in these twin islands to build mega cities like Hong Kong. But these deals are still hidden and secret. The people of Sindh are afraid that these Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi islands and the coastal belt have already been sold to the CCP (China’s Communist Party).

China’s presence in our region is continuously increasing. There are many Chinese companies that are already working in Sindh mostly in Port Qasim Authority, Karachi Stock Exchange and the energy sector. They are negotiating to buyout the Karachi Steel Mills, and the deal is in the pipeline.
Just a few days before the federal Ministry for Maritime Affairs advertised the post of chairman of The Pakistan Islands Authority (PIDA), under an ordinance to constitute the body aimed at developing barren islands in the territorial waters of Sindh.

Pakistani ordinance for the development of Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA). This ordinance arms Pakistan to takeover Bhundar (Bundal) and Dingi islands of Sindh, and subsequently sell them to China.

Sindhi people are also against this project because this is against our will and we have concerns that the demography of Sindh will be changed forever. Sindhi people will be reduced to a minority in their own land. And not only this, but this mega city and “so called” development will deprive around a million fishermen of their livelihood and they would suffer extreme poverty. The mangroves around these islands are assets of Sindh and Pakistan’s federal government and the Punjab province have no right to destroy lives of Sindhi people and the ecology of Sindh. It should be protected because mangroves save local Sindhi people from tsunamis and cyclones. These Islands are property of local Sindhi people. Pakistan and Punjab province is forcefully trying to occupy and sell lands of Sindh to China against the will of Sindhi people.

This presidential ordinance and Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) ordinance consists of 25 pages in which it is clearly mentioned that can not be challenged in Pakistani Courts. We, the people of Sindh, have no choice but to appeal in international court of justice, UNO or civilized nations of world that they take notice of these atrocities of Pakistan/ Punjab against historical Sindhi nation.

Zafar Sahito
Zafar Sahito
Zafar Sahito is a Sindhi nationalist and Vice President of Jeay Sindh Thinkers Forum.

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