Centre, K-P bury the hatchet to tackle power woes

Energy minister says joint plan chalked out to sort out power pilferage, load-shedding, recovery issues

Usama Iqbal May 27, 2024
Federal Minister for Interior Mohsin Naqvi and Federal Minister for Energy Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari in a meeting with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur in Islamabad on May 27, 2024. PHOTO: PID


Burying the hatchet to work together for the greater good, the Centre on Monday pledged to keep lights on in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with round-the-clock electricity but linked its promise to a crackdown on rampant power theft, which has been haemorrhaging billions of rupees.

The breakthrough came during a rare and important meeting in Islamabad, where K-P Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi sat down to clear the air.

Federal Minister for Energy Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari and the federal interior secretary were also in attendance.

With both sides finally seeing eye to eye for the sake of K-P residents suffering in the dark, the agreement potentially marked the end of a protracted tussle and heated exchanges over arrears and accusations.

Sources privy to the meeting revealed that the K-P CM expressed his frustration over the 18-hour daily load shedding plaguing his province.

In response, the energy minister pointed out the loss of billions of rupees to electricity theft, reassuring that if K-P can stop the power pilferage, the Centre was ready to provide electricity 24/7.

Addressing a joint press conference with Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi and Leghari, Gandapur announced the collaborative effort between federal and provincial entities to tackle load shedding and curb losses to the energy sector stemming from power theft.

“We have come together to ensure that losses in the system will be addressed and mechanisms will be put in place to prevent them,” he stated.

“I am proud to say that we can produce and distribute electricity nationwide. But there are problems with load shedding and those escalate into problems with law and order.”

The chief minister highlighted multiple discussions held with Naqvi and Leghari, expressing plans to develop mechanisms to prevent losses to the exchequer and ensure citizens pay their arrears.

“We as a province will do our part, as will our parliamentarians and local government representatives,” he added.

“This will be a community-based project,” Gandapur affirmed, acknowledging that until a mechanism is fully developed, K-P will receive relief from the centre. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, this will take time.”
He underlined that presentations were given by both sides, noting that once complete, the initiative would benefit the people by extending them relief and reducing financial losses for the government.
Additionally, he pledged to introduce solar energy to KP to further benefit the public. “We will soon be load shedding free.”

Read PTI MPA-led protesters storm Peshawar grid station

Meanwhile, Leghari labelled the occasion as a “joyful day”, stating that despite partisanship and political agendas, the federal government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have “recognized the damages done to this country” and come together for a solution.

“We all came to the table to discuss this issue (load shedding) and I am grateful to the interior minister for his role,” Leghari added. “We shared plans and told each other about the problems we are facing.
“We have come up with a solution which we will announce sometime tomorrow (Tuesday), once we have finalised the details,” Leghari said. Once everything is set, the model in K-P will be replicated in other provinces as well.

The energy minister echoed the K-P chief minister’s comments by saying that the initiative will be “community-based”, involving MNAs and MPAs.

“This is not as much a matter to end power theft as much as it is a way to end load shedding,” he said, adding that the PTI, PML-N and other governing parties have come together to revive the country’s economy.

Fielding questions from reporters, Gandapur said that he separated the “position from the institution” and said he was “seated next to the interior minister, not Mohsin Naqvi”.

“Though the PML-N stole our mandate, we have to work together for the good of the country,” he said.

“Imran Khan has always said we (the PTI) have no quarrel with any institution. We may have problems with individuals, but never institutions.”

“There are political parties and there are initiatives. We must not conflate the two,” the chief minister maintained.

Responding to a question, Interior Minister Naqvi acknowledged there was a “great shortage” of electricity in K-P. “We have managed to solve that very intelligently. This is something that needs to be appreciated.”

It is pertinent to note that there has been escalating tension between Gandapur's administration in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) due to prolonged load shedding across the province.

On May 15, Gandapur even issued a stern warning, threatening to take over Pesco's entire system if the federal government failed to address the severe electricity shortages and provide a new load-shedding schedule.

In the most recent development, PTI MPA Fazal Elahi led protesters into Peshawar's Rehman Baba Grid Station on Sunday, where they forcefully activated feeders, which prompted Pesco to seek legal action against him.


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