Senators call for reduction in gas, electricity prices


–Opp senators demand details of PM’s visit to Saudi, China

–Commission should investigate those fanning extremism, says PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar

ISLAMABAD: The senators on Thursday called for effective measures to bring down prices of electricity, gas and other daily use commodities and put details of the visit of the prime minister to Saudi Arabia and China before the upper house.

They dilated on these issues while speaking on the motions moved by Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, leader of the opposition, on behalf of 44 senators on issues of loans obtained by the government, foreign policy, hike in gas and electricity prices and the recent sit-in.

Senator Javed Abbasi, taking part in the debate, said Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech had said that begging brought shame for the country, and requested overseas Pakistanis to send money and pledged to break the begging bowl. The nation later came to know that the PM was going abroad to seek a financial package, he added.

He said the foreign minister informed the House that the aid from Saudi Arabia was without any condition. It did happen for the first time that prime minister told the nation in a speech that he had received financial assistance of $ 6 billion from Saudi Arabia, he added.

He said the government of PML-N had credibility and it received $46 billion from China and then it was increased to $56 billion for investment in infrastructure development.

Senator Javed Abbasi said a joint declaration of Pakistan and China mentioned that the energy projects set up in Pakistan were cheap and executed with speed.

He said the previous PML-N government added 10,000 megawatts to the national grid whereas PTI government could not produce a megawatt in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said when a prime minister goes abroad, he should not seek investment by saying that corruption was rampant in Pakistan and institutions were not in good condition.

He demanded that the details of the projects of LNG and CPEC should be brought before the public, adding record inflation hit the country and prices of electricity and gas were increased, adding to difficulties of masses. Prices of gas and electricity should be reduced for ensuring a relief to people, he added.

He greeted the Senate staff for holding the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and said the holding of the conference in Gwadar sent a message to the world that Gwadar and Balochistan were safe.

He said the event raised the profile and image of Balochistan and many senators had the opportunity to see Gwadar for the first time. He said Pakistan had fraternal ties with Saudi Arabia and Pakistanis were welcomed there.

Raising an issue of public importance, Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Saif said Siachen Glacier was an overlooked area and people were not aware of the situation.

Some emergency steps were needed about Siachen, he said adding posts of Pakistani forces existed at 22,000 feet and they were facing an enemy which had more numerical strength and more posts, he added.

He said soldiers were facing multiple problems and called for further raise in their salaries, besides making arrangements for their timely return to homes in times of emergency.

PkMAP Senator Usman Kakar congratulated the house over the holding of Asian Parliamentary delegates meeting at Gwadar.

Speaking on the economic issues being faced by the country, he said that Rs 30,000 billion loans were being reportedly taken in the past and the people had the right to ask about utilization of this amount on education, development work and on other sectors. He said that inflation rate was high at present.

He said that foreign policy of the government should be comprehensive.

Usman Kakar said that gas was an indigenous product but many areas of Balochistan were deprived of it. Several areas in Balochistan had no electricity while other areas were facing load shedding, he added.

He demanded the formation of a commission to investigate those who were fanning extremism in the country.

Usman Kakar said that country could only move forward with a fair justice system and fair distribution of wealth.

Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati said judgement of the Supreme Court in Aasia Bibi case was given by learned judges, adding judiciary had the central role in establishing the writ of the state and it was stated in the constitution that no person should be deprived of his life and liberty.

He said the basic pillars of the state include parliament, judiciary and armed forces.

Talking about the case of Aasia Bibi, he said eyewitnesses did not come forward to provide evidence in the case and according to law, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the accused.

He congratulated the Senate chairman and his staff for the holding of successful APU conference in Gwadar.

At the start of the debate, opposition walked of the house due to the absence of ministers.

Later on, due to lack of quorum pointed out by Senator Usman Kakar, the Senate chairman prorogued the session sine die.