ISLAMABAD                -         The protest of MQM-Pakistan with the support of Opposition parties in and outside the national assembly over electricity crisis in Karachi on Tuesday dominated over 101-item agenda related legislation on private members day of the national assembly.

The lawmakers from both sides of the aisle on point of orders preferred discussing matters related to the electricity crisis in the country especially in Sindh.

The PTI’s government with the support of all the lawmakers in the house approved an amendment in rules of the National Assembly which envisages reading out Hadith of the Holy Prophet (SAW) after recitation from the Holy Quran.

Earlier, the lawmakers from MQM-P raised concerns over the matters related to over-billing, load-shedding, and obsolete systems in Karachi. They were supported by PPP-P, the second largest opposition party in the house. MQM-P’s members after staging a brief sit-in outside the parliament house also raised their concerns in the house over the K-Electric issues. “We need assurance from the government

to address our genuine reservations,” said MQM-P’s Sabir Qaim Khwanai, on a point of order.

The ruling party PTI regarded its important allied partner and rushed to attend the protest outside the parliament. Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood and Minister for Power division Omar Ayub assured the protesting parties that the issues of electricity crisis in Karachi would be resolved.

Minister Asad Umar said that Karachi would be provided 550-MW of electricity before advent of the next summer season while by the year 2023, the Sindh capital would get 2150-MW of electricity. “Federal government feels its responsibility but the K Electric should also fulfil its commitment,” he said.

However, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda reminded the Opposition parties that K Electric contract was signed by the PPPP’s government era. He said it was PML-N government which appointed the present Managing Director of Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL).

Vawda said the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari talked about Arif Naqvi of Abraaj with regard to K Electric. “ It was the PPP Government which facilitated K-Electric and did not seek bank guarantees from the company,” he said and challenged the opposition’s expert to sit with the PTI government’s economic team for 30 days to find out reason behind the current state of the country’s economy.

PPP-P’s senior MNA Naveed Qamar rushed to clarify that the owner of Abraaj Group himself had stated he supported PTI’s 2013 and 2018 general elections campaign. He also demanded of the chair to refer the matter to the concerned committee of the House for further discussion on it.

Taking part in the debate, PMLN’s member Khurram Dastgir said the loans had increased to over Rs34,000 billions in only two years. The PML-N’ government had spent money on important matters including Zarb-e-Azab, generation of 12000 MW of electricity and projects etc. PML-N’s Marriyam Aurangzeb and PPP-P’s Abdul Qadir Patel came down hard on the incumbent government. They believed the government had failed to provide relief to the masses. The lawmakers were in a mood to further lock horns over the matters related to the electricity crisis and loans related matters but a member from treasury benches intervened and drew the attention towards the length agenda items. “The main purpose of the house is to do legislative business but the members are engaged in other matters on private members day,” he said.

Opposition objects timing of resuming Afghan Trade

About resumption of Afghan trade through Wagah border, PML-N’s parliamentary leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif raised objection over the timing of resuming the service. “The opening of Afghan trade route on Kashmir martyrs’ day is unsuitable timing. The decision was taken in haste,” said the former minister for foreign affairs, mentioning that the government should have discussed it in the house before taking a decision to open the route. The government had other day [Monday] announced to resume Afghan exports through the Wagah border crossing from July 15 after implementing coronavirus-related protocols. Pakistan has restored bilateral trade and Afghan transit trade at all border crossing terminals to pre-COVID-19 status.

GOVT TO SOON TAKE DECISION TO OPEN TOURISM

The government assured to take any positive decision in near future to open the tourism sector, which was closed due to COVID-19. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan assured National Assembly that the government will soon take a decision on opening the tourism sector, especially in northern areas with standard operating procedures in view of coronavirus pandemic.