PESHAWAR: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday called for the construction of large dams in the country to store floodwaters to minimise damage to public life, property and livelihoods, and infrastructure.

He told reporters at the Governor’s House here that the dam water could also fulfil the needs of urban centres and agriculture, according to a news release issued by the presidency’s media wing.

The president said that encroachments and illegal construction on riverbanks in northern Pakistan hampered water flow and thus, causing loss of public life and property to flooding. He said that the government should ensure that river paths aren’t encroached upon to minimise flood impact.

Replying to a question, Dr Alvi said that the assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan had passed resolutions against the construction of Kalabagh Dam, so the issue could be ‘reconsidered’ by the relevant institutions by involving stakeholders to understand their viewpoint, remove doubts and apprehensions, and build consensus.”

To another query, the president said that amid politically polarised and charged atmosphere, he did not want to cause any controversy about any institution or personality.

“Airing of any comments or statements out of reference and context should be avoided,” he said.

Dr Alvi said that he was trying behind the scenes to mediate among stakeholders to reduce political polarisation but won’t go into detail “to let the things mature.”

“The sole purpose of my efforts is to understand and remove misgivings and misunderstandings among stakeholders to bring them closer and help them find the middle way on major issues in the larger national interest,” he said.

The president said that he believed that with the general elections eight months away, things had the potential to settle down between those demanding early polls and those advocating completion of the government’s constitutional term.

He said that the recent signing of the government’s agreement with the Intentional Monetary Fund for a bailout package would encourage other international donors and financial institutions to come forward to help Pakistan address economic problems.

“I hope that things will start getting better [soon],” he said.

The president said like other citizens, he was concerned about high inflation. He said the people’s privacy should be respected.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022

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