ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Shahzad Qasim and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to meet the K-Electric administration and resolve the power supply issue as soon as possible.
Both the governor and the prime minister discussed the overall situation in Sindh, particularly related to the COVID-19. The Sindh governor also spoke highly of the prime minister’s vision and successful strategy to combat the coronavirus in the country.
Meanwhile, the prime minister appealed to the nation to celebrate Eidul Azha with simplicity, strictly observing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) against the coronavirus. He was talking to reporters after inaugurating the state-of-the-art 250-bed Isolation Hospital and Infectious Treatment Centre here, which has been completed in record 40 days at the cost of about Rs980 million.
Imran urged people not to resort to carelessness shown during the Eidul Fitr last year and strictly observe the SOPs this year, as the virus would spread fast if people gathered in large number. “Since we were careless, the virus spread very fast and as a result, pressure on our hospitals was massive and the frontline doctors and nurses also faced so much pressure. Unfortunately, we also lost lives,” he explained.
The virus, he noted, peaked and afterwards, the government took measures, including the smart lockdown, and with the blessings of Allah Almighty, thevirus curve was coming down now. “We are also not expecting that infections will come down so fast, as we think the virus would peak by July end,” he maintained. The prime minister cautioned that any carelessness during Eidul Azha would lead to a fresh spike in the coronavirus cases. However, he expressed satisfaction that with the cooperation of all the departments concerned, the curve of coronavirus cases in the country was on the decline. He said the smart lockdown had yielded positive results. The premier said the government had come up with SOPs about how to sacrifice animals this year.
“I appeal to the entire nation to observe Eid with simplicity for the sake of your country, its economy, and especially the elderly. If we take care now, then we can manage, God willing, to come out of this pandemic better than other countries,” he said.
Commending completion of a modern isolation hospital in a record short period, the prime minister said important tasks could be completed with political will.
Earlier, Chairman NDMA Lieutenant General Muhammad Afzal briefed the prime minister about the hospital. He explained that the 250-bed state of the art medical facility had been constructed in record 40 days at a cost of about Rs980 million. Planning Minister Asad Umar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and other senior officials were also present on the occasion.
Meanwhile, the issue of electricity load shedding, which was first raised by the PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal in the National Assembly on Wednesday, continued to haunt the government on Thursday. Speaking in the National Assembly, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar lamented that the past governments had paid no attention towards addressing the issue.
The ministers and the PPP members continued to blame each other for not addressing the problems of Karachi. The House also echoed with the slogans of ‘shame shame’ and ‘no, no’ by the PPP female members during his speech. The House erupted with protest from the PPP female members when the PTI member from Karachi Aslam Khan called them shameless. The PPP female MNAs assembled in front of Speaker Asad Qaiser’s dais. Aslam Khan later on apologized to the PPP members after the deputy speaker said all members, particularly female members, regardless of their affiliation to any party were respectable.
Asad questioned if Karachi was facing power load shedding for the first time. “Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Khawaja Asif also remained ministers for power. Why didn’t they take action against the K-Electric?” Asad Umar said the two PPP and PML-N governments also failed in launching new projects to generate electricity for Karachi. “One of the then ministers for power even went to the extent of saying that power load shedding in Karachi was not his issue,” he said. Umar said a wrong impression was being given that the K-Electric was privatized by the incumbent government adding that the the Q League government privatized power distribution in Karachi. He said the PTI government would implement the project to improve power transmission and distribution system in Karachi, in record time.
Ahsan Iqbal said there was no electricity and water in Karachi and it seemed that people there were living in a stone age. He also demanded formation of a special committee of the House on the issue. PPP member from Karachi Agha Rafiullah raised the issue of load shedding in Karachi through a calling attention notice. Rafiullah regretted that the people of Karachi were still facing crisis while the K-Electric was not acting as per commitment of providing electricity to the metropolitan.
The Minister for Power Omar Ayub said they were bound to give 600MW electricity to K-Electric adding that currently the company was getting additional 100MW electricity. However, he said the transmission system of K-Electric was not capable of taking the additional load. The minister said electrocutions in the city were caused by the stagnant rainwater, while the provincial government was responsible for not making a proper water drainage system.
He said the PTI won majority seats from the Karachi in 2018 general elections and was taking concrete measures in this regard. “We are making arrangements for provision of additional 200 MW electricity to Karachi,” he said. He said K-Electric existed in Sindh and the provincial government could impose fines on the company for any wrongdoing or violation of agreement.
Shazia Marri of PPP questioned whether the statements of ministers would resolve Karachi issues. She said both the National Electric Power Authority (Nepra) and K-Electric fall under the federal government and that’s why it was answerable to the people about its performance. She also told the minister that the Sindh government was not represented on the K-Electric Board. The PPP leader and former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf regretted the attitude of Asad Umar and Omar Ayub saying that instead of giving response, they delivered speeches and shifted the blame of failures to the past governments.
He said the minister for power presented a unique logic that K-Electric existed in Sindh province. He reminded the minister that K-Electric and Nepra fall under the federal government and its board had no representation from the Sindh province. “This House is not meant for giving statements without thought,” he said and asked the government to stop turning the parliament into a theater.
Federal Minister Aminul Haq said K-Electric was acting like a state within the state. He said the company was provided with 850MW power instead of 550MW apart from additional gas supply but despite that load shedding in Karachi was on the rise. Demanding constitution of a special commission to resolve the issue, the minister said the MQM members would also stage a sit-in outside the Parliament House against load shedding in Karachi on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, responding to another calling attention notice from Nusrat Wahid of PTI regarding payment of compensation to those martyred in the Karachi Stock Exchange attack, Parliamentary Secretary on Interior Shaukat Ali said Rs1.5million each for two martyred police officials had been announced. He said the security company, which employed three martyred security guards should announce compensation for them. Moreover, he said the Sindh governor has also announced 11 police medals and seven Quaid-e-Azam medals for the policemen who foiled the terror attack.
Meanwhile, PPP parliamentarians and Federal Minister Murad Saeed came face to face in the National Assembly when former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf challenged the JIT report on Uzair Baloch released the other day.
The Uzair Baloch JIT frayed tempers and physical fight was nearly averted when PPP parliamentarian Shahida Rehmani pointed out lack of quorum in the House when Murad Saeed was responding to the points raised by Pervaiz Ashraf on the issue. As the counting of members was in progress, PPP member Nasiba Channa threw the headphone at Murad Saeed, which however did not reach him.
“Uzair Baloch in his statement given to the JIT said that he used force for police encounters and kidnapping for ransom on the directives of PPP leaders,” Murad said quoting ‘Sec 164’ statement by the accused terrorist. The PPP members also strongly protested when Murad Saeed, while referring to the JIT report released by Ali Zaidi, said Zardari’s sister used to receive the extortion money. “Uzair Baloch has also stated that he helped Asif Zardari in occupying 14 sugar mills,” he said while referring to the report.
Confronting the hot political issue, former prime minister, Pervaiz Ashraf questioned whether it is possible that a motorcyclist hands over an envelope and one starts reading the report in the House without verification. “The report, which was waved in the House, did not bear any signatures,” he said.
Murad Saeed said according to the second JIT report presented by Ali Zaidi, Uzair Baloch had admitted to purchasing weapons from different sources from the year 2008 to 2013 and his hand in 164 murders. “He also admitted to using police vans, slaughtering people and burning bodies,” Murad narrated the horrific details. Citing another blood curdling crime, Murad said “Uzair Baloch also admitted to kidnapping a person, Yousaf, in a police van, decapitating him and kicking his head like a football.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the speech of Murad Saeed, Abdul Qadar Patel said the minister had attempted to create doubts about the JIT report prepared by sensitive institutions. “Murad Saeed misguided the House on the report prepared by the ISI, MI and other organizations,” he said. He said the JIT report never mentioned the role of the PPP in criminal activities but the minister waived a fake report in the House.
Meantime, Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said there would be no compromise on discipline in the PTI adding that without an effective system of reward and punishment, the party could not achieve its goal of becoming a modern political institution.
He observed this while talking to Chairman PTI Standing Committee on Discipline and Accountability Salman Aftab, who called on the prime minister here. Issues of mutual interest, including the committee performance, were discussed in detail.
Imran expressed satisfaction over the performance of the standing committee and said obedience to the Constitution and discipline was the backbone of organizational existence. He emphasized that observance of party discipline should be the first priority of every worker, as no one was allowed to trespass or go beyond discipline.