Tarbela dam was commissioned in 1976 by when Bhutto was having problems of his own and could not have thought much about Kalabagh dam. In fact it was under Gen Zia that consultancy work started on the dam by local, foreign and World Bank consultants and continued till 1986. Work also proceeded alongside on buildings and roads infrastructure. According to a noting in a file in the Punjab irrigation department, international tenders were about to be floated when the project had to be put on the back burner because of a controversy arising on the political front.

This was when Benazir Bhutto on returning to Pakistan started a rebellion against Gen Zia opposing him on everything, including Kalabagh dam, “Sindh will become a desert if Kalabagh dam is built” she had said, putting the whole of Sindh and the PPP lot in Punjab dead against the dam, and this has been the main reason why Kalabagh dam has not been built.

It is true that Musharraf put in a lot of effort to try and get consensus on Kalabagh dam but you have completely missed the Herculean effort, extending over many months, of Mian Nawaz Sharif in getting the historical ‘Water Apportionment Accord’ signed by all the provinces, which gave many concessions to Sindh, including an increased share in all future dams by reducing Punjab’s share, equal share for both despite Punjab having a much larger area under cultivation. The Water Accord was heavily weighed in favour of Sindh but Benazir Bhutto with her parochial mind-set rejected it. Kindly get the above confirmed from the Punjab irrigation department.

You are right that the Kalabagh site is an ideal location for a mega dam which will benefit the whole country, however the dam storage capacity will be 6.1 million acre feet (one maf is one foot of water standing over one million acres) and not 7 KM as mentioned. You could also have mentioned that only a dam at this site can utilize the copious flows of the tributaries of the Indus, namely Kabul, Chitral, Swat, Kurram, Siren, Haro and Soan, as well as trap their flood water. South Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan will keep suffering from floods from these river-sized tributaries until Kalabagh dam is built.


Lahore, October 4.