As water and power czar, Ashraf was the most sought after minister in NA

Published: June 24, 2012
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Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s ministry received 1,147 questions, answered 60% of them. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s ministry received 1,147 questions, answered 60% of them. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

During his tenure as federal minister for water and power, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was one of the top five sought after ministers in the National Assembly – by legislators who wanted answers to the chronic power crisis.

Ashraf, however, could not answer 40% of the questions put to his ministry, according to a report on the parliamentary performance of the new premier released by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) on Saturday.

“Raja’s performance as Federal Minister for Water and Power has been tainted by failures to overcome the power shortfall that continued to aggravate even after he was replaced,” the assessment report said.

“His actions and responses inside and outside the National Assembly have not been translated into actions,” the report added.

Stints as minister

Ashraf served as a federal minister for almost 36 months of his 51-month tenure as a member of the 13th National Assembly. Between March, 2008 and February, 2011, he held the portfolio of minister of water and power. He made a comeback to the cabinet in April 2012 as minister for information technology.  Between the two tenures as federal minister, he acted as a member for almost 15 months, but did not contribute to the assembly proceedings during that period.

Calling attention notices

As minister for water and power, Ashraf provided replies to 29 of the 45 calling attention notices, the report by Fafen said.

In one of the replies on unscheduled power outages in 2008, Ashraf told the house that there was no difference in ‘load-shedding schedules’ for cities and villages. Replying to another notice, he informed the house that a committee had been formed to look into overbilling and the reasons for increase in power tariff. In 2010, he told the house that the power shortages had decreased and shared plans to add 1,000 megawatts of electricity by 2011.

Question hour

As the energy crisis worsened, the parliamentarians asked a total of 1,147 questions from the Ministry of Water and Power during the period when Raja Ashraf was in-charge. The ministry provided answers to almost 700, or 60%, of the questions, of which almost 400 required oral replies and 300 required written replies. The ministry did not respond to 443 questions.

Ashraf became the minister for information technology in 2012 but had a quiet time as his ministry provided answer to only two questions and one Calling Attention Notice.

Ashraf became the minister for information technology in 2012 but had a quiet time as his ministry provided answer to only two questions and one Calling Attention Notice.

Legislation

As the water and power minister, Ashraf moved two treasury-backed bills. The Alternative Energy Development Board Bill 2010 was passed while the Private Power and Infrastructure Board Bill 2010 was introduced and sent to the respective Standing Committee. It was later passed in 2011.

Points of order

On ten points of order, Raja Ashraf defended the government’s performance once, and twice spoke on the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. He expressed his views on budget once, and he replied to the opposition’s criticism against one of his party colleagues at another instance. On three occasions, he offered condolences, and also paid tributes to late Nusrat Bhutto.

Published In The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Imran Con
    Jun 24, 2012 - 1:05PM

    “The ministry provided answers to almost 700, or 60%, of the questions, of which almost 400 required oral replies and 300 required written replies. The ministry did not respond to 443 questions.”

    I’m not saying they should have ignored those questions considering it’s part of what he’s paid for but, really, 1,147 questions about a single topic is almost going to have to have ones that basically amount to the same thing as other questions using different wording.

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  • dv sikka
    Jun 24, 2012 - 3:09PM

    In the British days they used to say ‘God save the King’, now it is ‘Ashraf save the Swiss Accounts’.The rest is all flimsy cover up. Will he succeed in his core mission. Will Pakistanis get to see the face of justice.

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  • load-shedding
    Jun 24, 2012 - 5:50PM

    Hello guys, One question, why our so called government not asking for help from china to come and find a way of electricity load shedding, Ashraf cant do it alone, right?

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  • Malik Waqar Haider Awan
    Jun 24, 2012 - 5:54PM

    Appointment/election of Raja Ashraf as PM is best example that Failure and corruption are the keys of success in Pakistan.

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  • Jun 24, 2012 - 8:01PM

    Ha, ha ha, the most sought-after Minister? He had to be so. After all he was most powerful Rental Minister of most expensive power production. But only 60 % questions were answered by him or his ministry is no credit at all. It is like making too much noise signifying nothing. But by nominating him as PM, the top man, the holder of two portfolios, Mr. Z has acted like absolute dictator, yes! one who always dictates. If he had slightest respect for democracy within the party, he should have made Mr. Kaira , PM as he was the most backed-up candidate in the NA. but in our ‘Jagirdari nizam’, only dictatorial way is the way out. The blessings of free Pakistan are never allowed to be reached/enjoyed by the common man in the street.
    This is a dilemma never solved so far by our rulers, unable to see beyond their nose.

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