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January 23, 2020

‘Less developed areas blessed with natural resources’

National

January 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Legislators in the Senate have called for strict compliance of the Constitution with regards to the natural resources, as they said that the less developed areas are blessed with natural gas, gold, copper and other precious minerals, but these continued to be harnessed by others.

While speaking on a report, presented in the House by Chairperson of the House Committee on Less Developed Areas Senator Usman Khan Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party Tuesday, the Senators from less developed provinces and districts said that today about 70 per cent population lived below the poverty line and people use donkey cart to take their patients to medical centres. They insisted that the only way of less developed areas development was giving them their due rights and share in natural resources.

The senators referred to the relevant articles and provisions of the Constitution to question why the principle of an area, having natural resources had the (priority) right of its use. And then, they cited examples of Sui, Thar and other areas, where people still were deprived of basic amenities like medical care, education and clean drinking water in sheer violation of the Constitution.

Those who spoke on the report include Senators Kakar, Kulsoom Parveen, Sassui Palijo, Dr Sikandar Mandhro and Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and quite surprisingly the ruling PTI Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, who urged the committee to also talk to people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and address their problems.

He explained that recently railway fares were reduced across Pakistan but his province was deprived of it with the plea that more fuel was consumed because of track was in ascent in the province and asked was not it so for the last 70 years.

Senator Khattak continued that KP people were getting electricity on higher rates and facing loadshedding despite producing the cheapest electricity and more than its requirement. He claimed that the people of Karachi were getting the cheapest electricity in the whole country. He wondered how would investors come and invest when factories were facing shutdown; he referred to a factory in Jahangira, which paid Rs700 million tax, had been closed since last month due to non-availability of gas, whereas the province was producing more gas than its requirement.

Senator Kakar, who had led the committee visit to less developed areas of Sindh, said that the less developed areas formed 71 per cent of the total land of Pakistan and produced 95 per cent of its resources. He said Dadu, Jacobabad, Kambar, Kashmore, Sanghar, Tharparkar, Umerkot and Badin were the most backward districts of the province, alleging that five oil and gas companies were operating in Badin district, but these companies had not hired even 20 per cent employees from the local population.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Kulsoom Parveen said women in some areas of Balochistan were still being carried to hospitals on donkey carts. Dr Sikandar Mandhro of Pakistan People’s Party warned that there would be no life in the coastal areas of Sindh in the next 10 to 15 years, if the federal government did not take steps to check sea intrusion that had already affected 2.2 million acres fertile land. He criticised the federal government for saying that it was a provincial matter.

“Such complaints were lodged by people again, which were ignored and ultimately we lost East Pakistan. This government wants to negate the rights of the provinces and seeks doing away with of the 18th amendment,” he claimed. The House will resume discussion on the report next week on Tuesday.