Provincial assembly turns into shouting arena following state minister’s tirade

Published: January 9, 2014
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on political grounds. “The provincial government does not even have the
power to replace a meter reader in the company on its own,” Shah Farman. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

on political grounds. “The provincial government does not even have the power to replace a meter reader in the company on its own,” Shah Farman. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

PESHAWAR: 

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly turned into a battleground on Wednesday following power theft allegations leveled against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) provincial legislators by Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.

Speaking on a point of order, Minister for Information Shah Farman said if the centre suspends power supply to Bannu, the provincial government will cut Punjab’s electricity.

Some of Farman’s remarks against Ali infuriated Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) lawmakers who replied to Farman’s outbursts in the same tone. The use of non-parliamentary language forced deputy speaker Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi to chastise lawmakers and expunge remarks of the dueling legislators.

Farman informed the house that power pilferage in Punjab amounted to Rs85.3 billion whereas that in K-P stood at Rs48.3 billion. He said the federal government was not changing the chief of Pesco at the province’s request, alleging the head was being retained on political grounds. “The provincial government does not even have the power to replace a meter reader in the company on its own.”

Farman again demanded the federal government to pay the province its dues under the net hydel profit as per the AGN Kazi formula and to accept the arbitration tribunal’s decision in this regard. He said the province was being made a scapegoat to cover the federal government’s failure to curb the power crisis.

Meanwhile, PML-N lawmakers tried to disrupt Farman’s speech, forcing the speaker to send the house on a recess for 10 minutes. When the session resumed, PML-N lawmaker Sardar Aurangzeb Nalhota criticised the provincial government for passing the buck to the centre and said Islamabad is being blamed for every ill under the sun.

Minister for finance Sirajul Haq told the house K-P generates around 18 billion units of electricity while its own need stood at around 8 billion units. He said there were approximately 20 feasible sites in the province where hydel power, amounting to 18,000 megawatts, could be generated in three years with the federal government’s investment.

Responding to a question, Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Haji Habibur Rehman acknowledged Auqaf lands, shops and buildings have been encroached all over the province and said a high-level committee has been formed to end this illegal occupation. Records placed before the house showed that a total of 42,084 kanals of Auqaf property was occupied in Mardan, 42 kanals in DI Khan and 3,631 kanals in Mansehra.

Meanwhile, Haq also laid before the house the K-P Right to Public Service Ordinance, along with the K-P Ombudsman’s annual report for 2013 and the second report on the Biannual Monitoring of the Implementation of NFC Award, January-June 2012.

The session was later adjourned till Friday afternoon.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2014.

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