LAHORE - The Opposition’s rumpus in the Punjab Assembly Tuesday compelled Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to discontinue his speech at several occasions, who said he would not direct the law enforcing agencies to shoot at the loadshedding-hit protesters.
The PA session started with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal in the chair to discuss and vote on demands for grants 2012-13, however the severe energy crisis overshadowed the agenda, as the opposition and treasury alleged each other for failing to come up to the expectations of the electorate regarding solution to the menace of loadshedding.
Meanwhile, the Punjab CM arrived in the house, the treasury members welcomed him by thumping the desks and calling him a ‘lion’, while opposition members called the leader of the house ‘man-eater’.
Riaz said that the CM along with his cabinet hasn’t generated a single megawatt of electricity after the 18th amendment, while Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to Turkey and China for this purpose also proved unfruitful.
The opposition leader while alleging the provincial government for inviting masses through advertisements to join the anti-loadshedding protests claimed that some police officers told him that they have been ordered not to fire upon the loadshedding hit demonstrators.
The Chief Minister on this point requested the Speaker to allow him to respond to the Opposition Leader on which the opposition members raised deafening slogans against him, however Raja Riaz asked the opposition to listen to the leader of the house with patience.
Shahbaz, replying to the point of order said that Pakistan was in the grip of severe energy crisis and the entire nation should condemn the violent incidents during the anti-loadshedding demonstrations.
He said that why was Malik Nadeem Kamran’s house attacked if the provincial government was behind the violent demonstrations against loadshedding according to the allegation of the opposition leader.
Shahbaz also said that he had requested the people of the province through various forums that they should not damage public property during demonstrations.
He questioned how he could order law enforcing agencies to fire on people who were jobless due to the load shedding and could not feed their children or sleep. The CM said that he could order the police to fire at the load shedding-hit demonstrators on the insistence of the opposition who were actually responsible for this mess.
He claimed that Punjab’s economy has suffered the loss of Rs400billion and Rs100 billion exports are damaged due to energy crisis. Shahbaz said that discriminatory treatment was being meted out with Punjab in the case of power sharing, adding that four thousand megawatts of electricity could be added to the national grid if 200 billion rupees were spent under the head of circular debt.
The Chief Minister said that misguided rulers, who were responsible for pushing the country into darkness during the last four years, were holding the provinces responsible for load-shedding.
He said had attention been paid to generation of energy through coal, bio-gas, hydel and other resources, the energy crises being faced by the nation would have been solved to a great extent and the labourers and the common man would not have come out on the streets to protest.
He said that Punjab would contribute its share for payment of the circular debt of five billion dollars if the federal government and other provinces did the same. Shahbaz said that SC termed rental power projects unconstitutional, as through these projects, the national exchequer has been damaged to the tune of Rs113 billion.
Shahbaz pointed that whereas Punjab government fully implemented the decisions taken in the energy conferences, the federal government did not implement its any decision.
He said that 650 megawatt electricity which was being generated in Punjab but the same was being sent outside and ‘we remained quite in the larger interest of the federation’. He said that provinces have not been given the right to generate electricity under the 18th amendment
The Chief Minister said, “Two years’ ago, we had given contract to an Australian company to survey coal reserves of the province and we have now received a report from the company which has pointed out that 500 million ton coal is available in Jhelum”.
The Chief Minister said that energy related projects in Nandipur and Chichoki Maliyan in Punjab could not move further because of corruption of the then federal law minister and expensive machinery, worth billions of rupees, was lying useless at the Karachi port.
Similarly, a friendly country had given an electricity plant to Punjab as a gift, but it could not be installed and its machinery is also lying useless in containers at Faisalabad.
He alleged that federal government preferred rental power projects to meet its corruption needs, rather than going for cheaper sources of energy.
Shahbaz said that what could be the greater disservice to the nation than to import oil worth 10 billion dollars to generate electricity and to suck the blood of the poor masses instead of producing and generating electricity through cheaper sources.