Congressmen write to Pompeo on Pak dam, HR situation

Source: The International News

By Wajid Ali Syed

WASHINGTON: Just a day before Shah Mehmood Qureshi was scheduled to meet Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State received a letter from Congress urging him to raise human rights issues and construction of dam in Pakistan with the foreign minister.

The letter jointly written and signed by as many as five members of the Congress asking the Secretary to raise specifically two issues: enforced disappearances in Sindh and the construction of dams along the Indus River without Sindh’s consent.

The signatories also identified themselves as members of the Congressional Sindh Caucus and expressed concerns saying, “The worst human rights abuses in Sindh are the continued enforced disappearances.” The United Nations Human Rights Committee defines enforced disappearances as an arrest or detention by state officials followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate or whereabouts.

“Hundreds of people in Sindh have been forcefully disappeared in this way. This includes writers, students, activists, and politicians who campaign for human rights. Some of these individuals have ended up dead, and their families have never received the justice they deserve,” the letter sent on October 1, said.

Another pressing issue is the Pakistani government’s construction of dams and canals along the Indus River without the Sindh community’s consent, the letter said. The Indus River is the lifeblood of the economy in Sindh, and Sindh and Punjab have long shared this vital water source equitably. “This has changed with the unauthorised construction of dams and canals that are depriving Sindh of a fair share of the water supply, it further said adding that “Some dams are also causing saltwater intrusions from the Arabian Sea, which has destroyed large amounts of fertile land in Sindh. All of this has contributed to worsening economic conditions in Sindh, with the United Nations estimating that 75 percent of rural residents now live in abject poverty.”

The letter was signed by Reps. Brad Sherman, Carolyn Maloney, Dana Rohrabacher, Adam Schiff and Kyrsten Sinema. It concluded that it was important for the Secretary to raise these issues with Pakistan foreign minister to encourage Pakistan to strengthen its human rights record and improve the lives of the Sindhi people.