KARACHI: Fishermen activists hailing from different coastal areas and inland waters of Sindh and Balochistan elected new office-bearers of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) for the two-year period of 2014-15.
Three-member election committee comprising Hyderabad Press Club president Ishaq Mangrio, Shahnaz Sheedi of SAP Pakistan and nature activist Aly Ercelan conducted the election process, in which 110 councillors exercised their right to vote.
Mohammed Ali Shah elected chairperson, Fatima Majeed Senior Vice Chairperson, Mustafa Meerani Vice chairman, Saeed Baloch General Secretary, Ramzan Mallah Deputy General Secretary, Zulekha Treasurer, Ayoub Shan Information Secretary and Communication Secretary Gulab Shah were elected.
After the election process the newly elected chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said despite their effective struggle there are many gaps within organisational setup, which needs to be addressed to strengthen the PFF further and mobilize the community.
He announced to initiate mobilization campaign in Punjab, KPK, Balochistan and Sindh coastal areas and inland waters, rivers and wetlands to bring them organizational setup as they are facing problems and threats to their lives and livelihood resources.
He said in fact water resources are depleting fast all over the world and specially in Pakistan the situation is alarming due to lack of policies and legislation. This has posed threats to the ecology and community. They pointed out that the river Indus should have natural flow; stop building new water projects on the river; no further dams and diversions to the river Indus.
Shah said “PFF has success stories; we have committed and dedicated cadre; we have strong network; we have daring women to lead the struggle, hence it needs further unity to fill the gaps and reach the people still we could not reach there due to one or the other reason.”
He said abolition of contract system at waters is not solution of all the problems. Several water bodies are still under the control of certain landlords and tribal chieftains where the community people are introuble. He said in fact PFF has given recognition to the most marginalized and neglected fishermen community, we should realize that weaknesses exist within organization.
He said it needs activism to improve the network and save the natural resources. PFF is the only representative organization of three million fishermen, deriving their livelihood from the sea and inland waters and the rivers. The elected office bearers decided to have 50 percent leadership representation to community women and in future they will work for this.
Saeed Baloch appealed to the PFF activists to show unity against the issues like disastrous projects like nuclear power plants in Karachi, cutting of mangroves forests, reclamation of beach lands and threats to Gizri fishermen. Earlier he also presented report with challenges and success the PFF has achieved through its work. PFF was formed on May 5, 1998 and continued the struggle for 17-year long period. The community elders appealed to the community people to start awareness raising to avoid pollution in the waters and their workplaces.