Opposition lawmakers wary of new Hajj policy

Published: February 2, 2019
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Balochistan Assembly.  PHOTO: EXPRESS

Balochistan Assembly. PHOTO: EXPRESS

QUETTA  : Opposition members in the Balochistan Assembly on Friday rejected the new Hajj policy of the government, saying that those who claimed that they would establish a Madina-like state in the country had made it difficult for the people to perform the sacred obligation of Hajj.

The provincial lawmakers, including Haji Nawaz Kakar, Haji Abdul Wahid Siddiqui, Mir Zahid Reki, Mir Mohammad Younas Zehri and others, claimed that when the government could spend “billions of rupees on the establishment of Cinema houses”, why it could not facilitate the Hajj pilgrimage.

If the government could not facilitate the people for the performance of Hajj, it should acknowledge its defeat in running the affairs of the state, they said while talking to reporters at the conclusion of the provincial assembly session on Friday.

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They accused the government of working on the western agenda. “How can they solve people’s problems if they work on the agendas of others,” provincial lawmakers said. “We would stage protest against the Hajj policy inside and outside of the assembly.”

Earlier, the Balochistan Assembly, through a joint resolution demanded of the federal government to exempt domestic consumers in the province from the sale-price formula of gas, and introduce a fixed bill scheme during the winter season.

The bill was tabled by Muhammad Akbar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M). The resolution said that gas consumption increased in the winter, which led to huge billing by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).

“Majority of the consumers are receiving a minimum monthly bill of Rs10,000 to 15,000 under the sale-price formula of the SSGC,” the joint resolution said, terming it a great injustice to the people of Balochistan, who were not financially strong.

Speaking on the resolution, Mengal and other members said that the SSGC was supplying gas to the eight districts of the province. “People receive even Rs70,000 to 80,000 bills and the company tells them to pay the amount or face severing of connections in this chilly weather,” Mengal said.

“Balochistan has been supplying gas to the entire country for more than 60 years,” Mengal continued, adding that Islamabad should take notice of this injustice committed by the SSGC, which was earning billions of rupees in profits every year.

Other speakers pointed out that the company had changed the gas meters without informing the people. They complained that the new meters ran faster and had already been rejected by Punjab and other provinces.

The lawmakers demanded of the provincial government to take up the issue with the federal government and ask the authorities concerned to introduce a fixed billing system in Balochistan during the winter season.

During the question hour, Sanaullah Baloch of the BNP-M raised the issues of the ship-breaking industry. He demanded the formation of a committee to look into the laws and other related matters. He pointed out that 124 ships were anchored at Gadani shipyard yet Balochistan was getting minimal revenue from the industry.

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However, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, Adviser to the Chief Minister on Sports and Tourism, opposed the suggestion, saying that the government had already been reviewing the revenue issue of Gadani ship-breaking industry. “The department concerned has already taken 16 steps,” Hazara added.

Reacting on the statement of the adviser, Baloch said that the opposition parties would constitute their own committee if the government did not look into this issue. He added that the opposition’s committee would visit Gadani.

Akhtar Hussain Langove and Fazal Agha also spoke on matter. They said that forming a committee was not a wrong move. Home Minister Zia Langove and Adviser to the Chief Minister Danish Kumar said that if the opposition wanted a committee on the ship-breaking issue, they had no objection.

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