Taking a stand: Imran slams Centre for stalling accountability, progress

Says federal govt creating hurdles in implementing Bus Rapid Transit System in city

Asad Zia February 21, 2016
PTI chief Imran Khan inspects Zumung Kor Centre in Khazana. PHOTO COURTESY: CM OFFICE


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan criticised the National Accountability Bureau for protecting federal government employees. Imran was visiting the provincial capital on Sunday where he spoke at various venues, including Zamung Kor.

“The K-P Ehtesab Commission director general never accused me or Chief Minister Pervez Khattak of interference,” Imran said, referring to his earlier comment about saving the skin of federal government officials.

He vowed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government would not allow any hurdles to come in the way of independent accountability. Imran pointed out the EC arrested a PTI minister in a corruption case, but when NAB started any investigation on the federal level, the Centre blocked its path.

He vowed PTI would take the Aleem Khan case all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Imran said PTI held a sit-in when its demand for an investigation into the elections of four constituencies was rejected. The PTI chief said a peaceful protest was every citizen’s right, adding rigging was proven in three of the four questioned constituencies.

Rich in resources

Talking to the media during a visit to check gas seepage in Zakhel area of Mattani in Peshawar, Imran slammed the federal government for not issuing a no-objection certificate to allow K-P authorities to excavate their natural resources and use railway land alongside tracks to set up a mass transit system in Peshawar.

Imran said K-P was rich in oil and gas; therefore, he found it necessary to exploit these bounties to alleviate poverty and usher in economic development.

“There is no room to play politics when it comes to poverty and the public,” Imran said.

He added the K-P government had done its utmost to create an enabling environment in the province. The PTI chief claimed such policies attracted a number of local and international oil exploration, production and service companies to invest in the province.

Imran said the increase in LPG, oil and gas exploration/ production proved the government of Khattak was a success.

He highlighted only two or three rigs used to be operational in K-P, but “today of the 33 rigs in Pakistan, 10 are active in K-P and this inspired tremendous confidence [of investors and the public] in the PTI government.” Imran added oil production in two years had gone up from 30,000 to 50,000 barrels a day.

“Gas production has gone from 333 to 400 million cubic feet per day and LPG production from 10 tonnes to 510 tonnes daily.”

Grievances with Centre

Imran said the federal government had not been providing support to the oil and gas exploration/ production sector. He said the K-P administration had long asked for security assistance, but the Centre was unmoved.

The party leader highlighted the CM had written letters to the federal minister for interior, and the K-P Home and Tribal Affairs department had also requested the deployment of forces to protect workers from USA, Russian, Poland, China and Hungry, but all in vain.

The K-P government requested six platoons of Frontier Corps (FC), but the Ministry of Interior (MOI) had refused. Although regular armed forces were made available for CPEC, the federal ministry refused to protect the Chinese, the provincial government said.

An official statement pointed out six seismic crews were awaiting deployment for the last two months, but the interior ministry was the main hurdle by blatantly refusing to return FC platoons.

At Zakhel, Imran had said only three petroleum concession blocks were somewhat active in 2013. Fast forward to 2016 and 20 of them were being worked on, he added.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Oil and Gas Company Limited (KPOGCL) applied for a prolific Petroleum Concession Block—namely Lakki Marwat—a year-and-a-half ago, but the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources failed to allocate it, added the statement. The provincial government may allocate the Lakki Marwat Petroleum Concession Block to KPOGCL under Article 172(3), an outcome of the 18th Amendment, it added.

Imran had also shared Hycarbex Americam Energy Incorporated was keen to start oil and gas exploration and production by spending more than $100 million on the petroleum concession blocks. However, the federal government was extremely slow in granting permission to start work, the PTI leader said.

“The provincial government, however, is not waiting.” He said it had already started geological studies and scouting of the Peshawar Petroleum Concession Block.

Mass transit system

During his visit to the Bus Rapid Transit System in Peshawar, which is to be made part of the Mass Transit System, he said the use of land next to railway tracks would reduce traffic in the provincial capital.

Imran said the federal government had spent Rs50 billion on the establishment of the metro bus service, while the K-P administration would spend Rs14 billion for a similar initiative.

Double tracks

The Bus Rapid Transit System in no way interferes with the railway system or infrastructure and the rail corridor and can accommodate it as well as an additional track if a double track is laid from Rawalpindi to Peshawar and onward to Jalalabad, Senator Mohsin Aziz told The Express Tribune.

He said the main delay to the BRT project was the federal railways ministry’s proposed plan to construct two railway tracks on the land and not allow the K-P government’s project to be completed.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd,  2016.


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