Sana/WSI/WSC joint rally Los Angeles California - June 27th 2003

Sindhi-Americans Protest against Thal Canal
Los Angeles California June 27, 2003: Sindhi Americans gathered in Los Angeles, CA this Friday to protest against the construction of Greater Thal Canal. Three major Sindhi organizations in North America “Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), World Sindhi Congress (WSC), and World Sindhi Institute” jointly held the rally. Sindh, a southeastern province of Pakistan, has long been the victim of Islamabad’s unfair policies on water distribution.

The province is threatened with an additional setback as the government decides to construct illegal canals and dams upstream. These projects benefit military generals and tribal landlords, strongest supporters of the government, as they own lands in the command areas. On the other hand these projects will result in the desertification of large tracts of cultivated land in the province of Sindh, affecting the lives of millions of people there.

Several Sindhis and other local activists from all over California traveled to protest in front of Beverly Hills Hilton hotel, where General Musharaf was invited to speak. The protestors called for an end to the construction of the Greater Thal Canal, restoration of Sindhi national rights, an end to the Defamation Ordinance and Blasphemy Law, and the restoration of press freedom. They also held placards demanding the end of military rule and restoration of true democracy in Pakistan.

Mr. Sani Panhwar, President of SANA, demanded that Pakistani Government ‘optimize water allocation at the national level,’ and ‘to compensate Sindh’ for the last many years’ water theft. He further described the planned construction of Greater Thal Canal as "a conspiracy against Sindh" and demanded immediate withdrawal of the plan. He also said
that the planned construction of Thal Canal was in contravention to the 1991 Water Accord as well as the constitution of the country. The plan should first be presented before the Council of Common Interest.

Dr. Saghir Shaikh, Chairman of WSC, asked for an international intervention: “Without the help of the international community and neutral international monitoring organizations, competition over water in Pakistan could eventually lead to a serious, possibly violent conflict.”

Earlier this week a similar protest rally was organized in Washington DC along with a press conference on the day when General Musharaf met President George Bush. The protests in DC and LA were organized to convey the message to the U.S. administration to pressurize Pakistan in order to safeguard basic human rights of the indigenous people of Sindh.