ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s proceedings on Thursday were dominated by the ongoing power crisis in Karachi as members of the opposition staged a severe protest. This forced the government to call the standing committee on energy to meet in the provincial capital on Monday to assess the situation and resolve the issue, media reports have stated.
Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi directed the house committee on energy to convene on Monday to discuss the problem on a proposal of Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed who had admitted that the opposition’s protest was justified.
Members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement staged a token walkout to register their protest over long, unannounced load-shedding in the city, which according to them had made the lives of the citizens “miserable”.
The MQM members claimed that the K-Electric (KE) management had intentionally created the crisis to put pressure on the federal government. They also accused the KE of not implementing the agreement it had with the federal government at the time of the privatisation of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation.
They also said that students were also suffering due to lack of electricity at home as well as at examination centres.
The issue arose when the opposition members lodged a protest when Minister for Power Awais Leghari claimed that the PML-N government had fulfilled its election promise of eradicating -shedding from the country.
The issue gained momentum when the power minister announced that the government would not provide power to those areas, regardless of whose constituency it is, where electricity theft was rampant.
Leghari asked the house to allow the government through a resolution to recover the losses caused by power theft by increasing taxes on petroleum or tax rates to completely end load-shedding.
The opposition members started shouting when the minister was providing details of the number of feeders with zero load-shedding and where load-shedding was being carried out.
However, Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah challenged the minister saying that the government was including “technical losses” due to its own inefficiency as power theft. He supported his argument by claiming that a third-party investigation recently revealed that more electricity was being stolen in Lahore than the combined losses of Peshawar, Quetta, Sukkur and Hyderabad.
Shah said that the victims of these power outages would not accept the minister’s claims about the eradication of load-shedding. He commented that the KE did not want to generate electricity through oil-run plants as it wanted to save its money and that it was Nepra’s responsibility to force KE to run its plants.
MQM’s Abdul Waseem alleged that KE wanted to run away from the country after selling the company at a huge profit.
MQM’s SA Iqbal Qadri also claimed that KE had not set up any new plant violating the agreement it had signed at the time of its inception.
Parliamentary affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab said that a Nepra team had already been sent to Karachi to assess the situation and that he would ensure the presence of Nepra officials in the standing committee meeting.