ISLAMABAD - In what seems to be a damage control move in the wake of opposition’s pressure on the worsening power crisis in the country, the government on Friday appointed new Secretary Ministry of Water and Power, amid blaming protestors for hindering foreign investment in energy sector.

“The real purpose of the protests in Islamabad was to cause economic upheaval in Pakistan and to undermine the projects the government was working on for the provision of cheap electricity to the people, said Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif, while addressing a press conference. These sit-ins have caused billions of rupees loss to national exchequer and their only objective is to politically damage the government, he added.

He said the two parties created such an atmosphere that the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan was cancelled. Asif also termed the protests an attempt to derail ties between Pakistan and China.

PTI chief has been criticising the PML-N government on power crisis and its policies in energy sector during his addresses to the participants, on Constitution Avenue. Recently, Khan has been targeting government on excess billing issue while addressing his large rallies in different parts of the country.

Asif, while talking to media, strongly repelled all accusations against his party and alleged that a lobby created hurdles in the efforts of the Government to shift power generation projects from furnace oil to coal for generation of cheap electricity. Asif expressed the hope that agreements would be signed next month with China for 10,400 MW projects of electricity generation in Pakistan.

He said a delegation will go to China for this purpose next week to seek Chinese assistance in electricity generation projects from hydel, wind and coal. He claimed that in a short span of time these projects would start generating cheap electricity and the energy shortage would be over.

During the press conference, Asif’s criticised his political opponents. Imran Khan is completely devoid of economic know-how. PTI provided false statistics in their request regarding tariff to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and NEPRA has rejected it, Asif said.

He further stated that PTI’s Asad Umer has adept understanding of economic matters he should therefore not criticise the government but should stay associated with business institutions.

He informed that government provided 100 percent subsidy on the electricity generated from oil and so the electricity generated at Rs 18 per unit is being provided for Rs 9 instead.  The minister categorically rejected opposition blames regarding setting up fake companies to pay off loans and told that the companies would be presented before the media once the contracts will be signed.

As water and power minister finished his press conference, the government appointed Younis Dahga as new secretary water and power, quickly reached his new office and took the charge by noon.

The sources in ministry of water and power said that Nargis Sethi sensed that government would put all responsibility of load shedding and excess billing on her shoulders so she silently went on leave before Eid and applied for (Leave Prior to Retirement) LPR.

They also said that Sethi’s LPR was granted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a notification was issued on October 15, which reached ministry of water and power on Friday. Sethi is retiring in last week of December this year.

The new appointment and government reply to opposition has come at a time when after almost two months of sit-ins, both PAT and PTI chiefs have started back to back rallies in different parts of the country.  Both the protesting parties chiefs have been grilling government over soaring energy crisis, over billing and inability to invest in long term power generation projects like dams, in their addresses which are broadcasted live by almost all of the national TV channels.

Will the new secretary water and power would able to add something substantial to shrinking power generation capabilities, would end power theft, and would consumers not receive excess bills. Experts answer all above questions in negative and believe the new appointment is purely a political move.

They think without upgrading the whole electricity system of the country and starting new hydel projects the loadshedding maniac would become more powerful with every passing years and that new appointment could hardly make any difference, and if there is any improvement it would be fabricated and for a short while.

It is pertinent to mention that in another important development Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday stopped power distribution companies (DISCOs) from collecting additional charges on electricity bills.  Hearing the petition pertaining to additional charges filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umer, court issued notices to 11 distribution companies and a reply has been sought from the Attorney General.