Astola Island. via Wikipedia

Pakistan - PIDA to Develop Islands, Reclaimable Coastal Areas

ISLAMABAD: A presidential ordinance was promulgated on August 31 to establish the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) but the move remained largely unnoticed and unreported.

It was neither made public nor was it tabled in the National Assembly or Senate by the government. The organisation will develop and manage the islands in the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan.

The authority is being created to “initiate and maintain a continuous process of reclamation and urban planning and identify immovable properties and projects suitable for the development of schemes within the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan.” The Bundal and Buddo islands, on the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Karachi, will be the initial focus of the authority.

As news of the Ordinance began to spread, there was outrage among certain sections in Sindh. On Saturday, a seminar addressed by representatives of political parties, including the ruling PPP, and civil society groups strongly criticized the move as impinging on provincial autonomy. Many prominent lawyers in Sindh dubbed the move unconstitutional and vowed to challenge it. Environmentalists came out strongly on social media alleging that developing the islands would add to environmental degradation and damage fisheries and the mangroves. The Sindhi nationalist party, the Awami Tehreek, took out a protest rally in Karachi on Sunday against the Ordinance.

The reaction should have been anticipated given that the powers of the new authority are extensive and far-reaching. The PIDA has been given wide-ranging functions and exemptions from litigation in any court about the legality of anything done or any action taken by it.

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