ISLAMABAD: Laying emphasis on holding the next general election on its scheduled date that is July 25, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said those who may try to delay the next polls should be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution.
“The caretaker set-up is bound to hold the next general election within 60 days under the Constitution. Those should be tried under Article 6 who violate this law,” PM Abbasi said on Wednesday.
He was briefing media on the performance of oil and gas sectors during the five-year term of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, whose tenure is set to end today [Thursday] at midnight.
The PM, who was sworn in August last year after the apex court disqualified the PML-N former chief Nawaz Sharif for hiding assets in his nomination papers, defended former PM and said the Sharifs were a well-known business family even before partition.
“Those who are levelling allegations of corruption against Nawaz Sharif and his family are corrupt themselves,” he said in response to a question as to why Sharif did not disclose his assets.
The premier gave an open challenge to the detractors to expose, if they can, even a single financial scandal involving the present government. “We are satisfied with our work. Barking ones will continue barking and we will contest the next elections,” he said visibly irate.
Talking about his own integrity, he said he had more assets when he joined politics 30 years ago. He also offered himself for a trial and refuted the allegation of wrongdoing in the Rs200 billion LNG deal that he struck with Qatar as petroleum minister.
“The PML-N government inked LNG deal with Qatar at the lowest price in the world. The imported gas is cheaper to all alternative fuels in Pakistan and industry and other sectors are using it,” he added.
The PM said when the PML-N came to power in 2013, Pakistan was importing one million tonnes urea but now Pakistan has become net exporting country which exported 0.6 million tonnes urea last year.
“This has all happened due to imported gas in the country which has helped fertiliser units to resume operations, which were shut during the previous regime due to gas load shedding,” he added.
He said Pakistan has imported 176 LNG ships so far in record time.
“Pakistan is working on TAPI gas pipeline project but is unable to start work on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline due to fresh sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran. So, the best choice for Pakistan was to import LNG and government was able to bring LNG in 20 months,” he added.
He said power plants had shut down in the past due to unavailability of gas but these plants were now operating on imported gas with better efficiency. He said oil based plants had 28 per cent efficiency which was resulting in billions of dollars loss to the country.
“Pakistan can now make annual saving of US$2 billion due to use of LNG in power plants,” he added.
He said the government had planned another pipeline with partnership of China and Russia which would help transport additional imported gas from Karachi to Lahore.
He said Pakistan has become a success story in imports of LNG and foreign companies like Shell and ExxonMobil are interested to set up infrastructure for LNG imports. At present, Pakistan is importing 1.1 billion cubic feet per day LNG.
He said Parco was setting up Parco Khalifa refinery with 300,000 barrels per day at cost of US$ 5 billion. This will be the single largest investment project. Chinese company is conducting feasibility study to set up refinery near Lahore with 300,000 barrels per day capacity at a cost of US$8 billion.
“The foreign investors have come to set up 23 new foreign oil marketing companies,” he added.
Abbasi also claimed that oil prices were still lowest in the region. He justified the higher taxes on petroleum products and said price of petrol stood at Rs150 per litre in India. He said the petrol products were major source of revenue collection and as a rational country, Pakistan should increase taxes.