Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated Pakistan’s first solar power park, which will start generating 100 megawatts of electricity in December this year and by 2016 add 1,000 megawatts to the national grid. The Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park project is a joint venture of the government of Punjab, Bank of Punjab and M/s TBEA Ltd of China.
Addressing the ceremony at Islamia University, Bahawalpur, the premier said Pakistan’s biggest problem is power shortage that has pushed the country backwards and adversely affected its agriculture, exports, imports and industries.
The government is committed to ending load-shedding which is why it is ‘working day and night’ to complete new power projects, he said. “Since Pakistan’s creation, 23,000MW of electricity have been produced, while we are planning to add 21,000MW to the system in the next eight years.”
Premier Nawaz said his government would meet the country’s energy needs much before the end of its five-year tenure. Pakistan would not only be able to meets its own requirement but also produce surplus electricity, he claimed.
He also thanked the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan and the president and engineers of TBEA Ltd for providing technical assistance to the largest solar power project of the country.
The Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, with a total investment of $33 billion, is a glaring example of the close friendship between the two countries, he said. The 2,100-kilometre corridor would include special economic zones, a railways system and a model city, airport as well as a free port at Gwadar.
‘Discuss politics over tea’
Commenting on the May 11 planned rally led of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), the premier said there was no justification for protests, particularly at a time when the country has embarked on the road to progress and development.
“What is the need of the protest now?” he questioned, and invited those leading the protests to hold talks over a cup of tea. “Come to the Prime Minister House. Talk to me. Have tea or coffee with me, discuss your concerns,” he said addressing the PTI chief and recalled, “I visited you too.”
“Are they against the progress of Pakistan? Are they against the development projects in the country? Are they against the end of corruption, against the declining dollar [exchange] rate and end of load-shedding?”
The prime minister repeatedly stressed on the political parties who have planned the protest rallies to resolve issues amicably via dialogue. He dismissed the allegations of rigging in the general election and asked, “Where did the rigging take place? Was there any rigging in Bahawalpur?”
“‘We will neither play nor let you play’ is not the right approach. You have been playing all your life so exhibit the same sportsman spirit now,” quipped Nawaz.
Imran rejects PM’s offer
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has rejected the prime minister’s invitation for talks, saying that Nawaz Sharif should focus more on solving people’s problems.
According to a private television channel, Imran described the talks offer as ‘uncivilised’ and said the premier should keep his post and stature in mind while making dialogue offers at public gatherings. He reiterated that the PTI is determined to stage its scheduled protest rally against the rigging in the May 11 elections, rampant corruption and rising inflation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2014.