A presidential ordinance by the Imran Khan government to take control of the Sindh islands has kicked up a political storm in Pakistan, with the opposition calling it "illegal annexation" by China
A presidential ordinance by the Imran Khan government to take control of the Sindh islands has kicked up a political storm in Pakistan, with the opposition calling it "illegal annexation" by China.
Sindh, the third-largest province in Pakistan by area, borders the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to the east, and Arabian Sea to the south. In the Sindh coastal belt, there are around 300 small and big islands.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi had on September 1 promulgated the ordinance for establishing "Pakistan Islands Development Authority" for "development and management of islands in internal and territorial waters of Pakistan".
The ordinance, which cannot be challenged in any Pakistani court, has been brought for the development of cities on the islands, as per a copy circulated by Pakistani opposition parties on social media.
Sindh based political parties, civil society organisations as well as the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) led Sindh government has condemned the move, calling it an attempt to encroach on Sindh's land.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a post on Facebook said, the PPP "will oppose the illegal annexation of Sindh's islands through presidential ordinance by the PTI government. I ask how is this act any different to Modi's actions in occupied Kashmir. Move will be opposed in national, provincial assembly and the senate".
Many Sindhi activists on social media claimed that Pakistan was selling the Bhundar-Dingi twin islands (over 12,000 acres of land) to China.
The federal government has no authority to control or build anything on Sindh's islands without the permission of the Sindh government, Sindhi activist Zafar Sahito wrote in an article.
He claimed that Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to China in 2019 had committed the Diamer Bhasha Dam, now part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the Sindh twin islands.
China is likely to invest in these twin islands to build mega cities like Hong Kong. There are many Chinese companies already working in Sindh, mostly in Port Qasim Authority, Karachi Stock Exchange and in the energy sector. China is also looking to buy Karachi steel mills, he claimed.
Former PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had announced a movement against the decision to take over the islands during General Pervez Musharraf's regime in 2007. After protests by the PPP, the national parties and the civil society organisations, the government had to take back the decision, Sindhi activists noted.