Sindh: Musharraf Defers Controversial Pakistan Dam Project
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday deferred plans to build a controversial dam after fierce opposition from three of Pakistan's four provinces.
Musharraf has been campaigning for the construction of Kalabagh dam on Indus river since he seized power in 1999 and he has recently stepped up efforts to get the project off the drawing board.
Speaking to the nation on the state-run television, he said Pakistan should build five dams including Kalabagh by 2016 to meet growing water shortages caused by drought and silting of existing reservoirs.
However, he said the government had decided to start construction of two other dams immediately because small provinces, particularly southern Sindh, had reservations over Kalabagh.
"Public opinion, mostly in Sindh ... is not fully on board. I respect this public opinion," he said.
Water has long been a sensitive and divisive issue in drought-prone Pakistan.
People in Sindh fear that the Kalabagh dam will rob them of their fair share of water.
Political allies in Sindh, including the province's chief minister, had threatened to resign if central government decided to build the dam.
Support for the Kalabagh dam was strong in Punjab, the country's
cotton and wheat basket and its most populous, and traditionally most powerful,