Fisherfolk forum celebrates foundation day


Pakistan’s marine and inland fishermen celebrated the 14th foundation day of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Saturday in different district headquarters in the province.
The major event was held at Karachi’s Ibrahim Hyderi locality, where a large number of community women and men hailing from nearby villages participated.
PFF leaders Mohammed Ali Shah, Saeed Baloch, Majeed Motani, Tahira Ali, Yousuf Kadani, Sami Memon, Ayoub Shan, Mustafa Gurgaiz, Latif Dhorai, Kausar Baloch and others cut a cake and exchanged greetings with the fisherfolk.
The PFF theatre and music groups performed tableau and songs to motivate the community on staying alive on the issues fishermen are confronted with in different areas.
Shah said the 14 years of the community struggle have inspired the world to learn lessons from the achievements of the PFF.
He paid homage to the sacrifice of PFF’s two leaders who were killed last year on the same day just after the celebrations. “The community people will not forget the sacrifice of the activists and the way of taking revenge is strengthening unity among the oppressed people,”
Shah said the mangroves are being cut along the city coast by land mafia, putting citizens at risk of natural disasters. “It is not only the responsibility of fishermen, the citizens themselves are stakeholders and should come forward to challenge the land mafia and preserve the mangroves.”
“We are still struggling for the rights of fishermen, deriving their livelihoods from 300 water bodies, who are being deprived of their rights by influential landlords,” the PFF chairman said. “Lakes, wetlands and canals are under the control of certain people and fishermen are being pushed into poverty and joblessness.”
Despite tall claims, the government is doing nothing for the well-being of the community. Harmful nets are being used at the mouths of creeks. Landlords and investors are destroying fish reserves, which will put fishermen vulnerable to hunger and poverty in the time to come.
Shah said despite hostile attitude of ruling elites and landlords fishermen are being made united to educate their children and come together for their common goal. Nobody can divide fishermen for their interests.
He said they are celebrating the whole year to save water resources, demanding government for the restoration of the Indus River. The struggle is for getting water share to protect Indus Delta and natural resources at tail end areas of the province.
Communities residing in the entire country waters are being motivated to understand the conspiracies being hatched against their unity on ethnic and religious grounds. Fishermen from all the areas are from the same community and their rights are the same.
He said after phase-wise struggle the community will start a caravan from Jamshoro on March 1 next year and Islamabad on March 14 to celebrate the ‘International Day of Action for the Rivers.’
Saeed Baloch said the industrialists have polluted the marine waters and now the urban and industrial waste is being streamed into Keenjhar and other lakes and canals. He said the canals passing through major cities are getting urban waste.
Civic agencies are playing havoc with the lives of the tail-end people, who use the canal water. Mustafa Meerani from Manchhar Lake said now the major freshwater lake has become a dumping site, receiving pollution from drains.
At Badin hundreds of fishermen gathered to mark the foundation day, where Tahira Ali, Omar Mallah, Makal Shah, Mithan Mallah and others led the rally, which also attracted civil society activists and academia to express solidarity with the fishermen.
At Hyderabad, community elders from Jamshoro, Matiyari and Nawabshah attended.
Similar gatherings were held at Manchhar Lake, Sanghar, Umerkot, Thatta, Sukkur, Kashmor, Guwadar of Balochistan and other waters, where community people staged rallies for their rights. Jubilant activists performed dance and songs to highlight their demands.