Washington DC rally - May 18th 2001

Joint Rally by North American Sindhi Organizations demanded UN intervention to assure and monitor water distribution in Pakistan.

Indus Water Rights Action - an environmental rights advocacy group formed by Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), World Sindhi Congress (WSC), The World Sindhi Institute (WSI) organized a demonstration in front of the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC on May 18th, 2001 to protest over the Pakistani Government's unfair distribution of Indus water. Hundreds of social, political, environmental, and human rights activists from different parts of North America and Sindhis and Balochs around the world came to attend this historic rally. The rally was organized to protest the Pakistani Government's unfair policies for distribution of Indus water among the four supposedly autonomous provincial units of present-day Pakistan. These unfair policies exercised throughout the history of Pakistan have rendered Sindh, Balochistan and parts of Lower Punjab virtually deserted. Many towns and villages in Sindh severely lack drinking water sources bringing a heavy toll on millions of people involved in agriculture industry. If these conditions persist, a severe drought is likely to hit many areas in Sindh and Balochistan. This will trigger a mass exodus from inner Sindh to the cities of Pakistan. The Joint rally of Sindhi organizations held that the current tragedy is a logical outcome of an on-going piracy of Indus River in Pakistan. This act of aggression by the upper riparian of Punjab has deprived the lower riparian of Sindh of their due share in the water and has promoted environmental degradation in all four provinces of Pakistan. It is obvious that the Pakistani Government is quick to use current crisis to justify building yet another dam on River Indus at Kalabagh (or another site) in spite of unanimous opposition by the three affected provinces and parts of Punjab province. The speakers maintained that the fifty-four years of bad governments in Pakistan, hundreds of broken promises, frequent military takeovers, misplaced priorities in public policy, violation of many covenants and accords, and a total disregard for the individual and collective human rights, Sindhis are less likely to trust any assurances without proper process of mitigation. They demanded that the water distribution issue in Pakistan should be settled according to the Sindh-Punjab Agreement of 1945. It was also demanded that the special United Nations commission should be entrusted to monitor daily water distribution between Sindh and Punjab provinces. This rally was the best display of the grass root mobilization of Sindhi community in North America, as well as the unity of oppressed nations of Pakistan. Several Baloch, and Seraiki activists along with their families participated in this rally. IWRA representatives, Mr. Iqbal Tareen of SANA, Dr. Safdar Sarki of WSC, and Mr. Sohail Ansari of WSI presented a Memorandum of Demands to Pakistan Embassy at the end of the protest. Prominent amongst those who addressed the rally included, Mr. Khalid Hashmani, Keerat Babani of Sindhi Sabha, Sohail Ansari of WSI, Saghir Shaikh of WSC, Iqbal Tareen from SANA, Dr. Tara Chand, former minister Baluchistan Government, Wahid Baluch, former Speaker Baluchistan Assembly, Syed Ghulam Shah of JSM, Munawar Laghari of WSI and Hasan Mujtaba, who recited an inspirational Sindhi poetry eulogizing Indus Water crisis.

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