LAHORE - Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the country at present is in a state of war and the whole nation needs to be on the same page to rise to the occasion and defeat terrorism and extremism.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday the chief minister said the country was facing attacks from all the four sides and time had come for the entire nation to decide how the monster of terrorism could to be brought under control.

The CM also announced $10 billion six coal-based energy plants in Punjab to secure about 6,000mw electricity within next three to five years. He said following a national conference the prime minister made hectic efforts to win peace through dialogue and still this option had not been abandoned, but what had happened during the last week was quite outrageous. Now, he said, the situation had become intolerable and the whole nation must decide how peace could be achieved in the country, which was a dire need for economic progress and prosperity of the nation.

Flanked by provincial ministers, Rana Sanaullah Khan, Sher Ali, Malik Nadeem Kamran and Ch Shafiq, the chief minister told media persons that the Punjab government had previously planned to get electricity from Gaddani, Karachi port, but it had changed its mind when it transpired that line losses and the transmission of electricity from that imported plant in Gaddani were equal, but the ultimate cost of energy was much higher that of coal-based plants. Now the Punjab government, after technical surveys and deliberations, had identified six sites for installing coal-based plants, two in the public and four in the private sector.

When asked whether Gaddani had been shelved, he said no, it would be carried out by the federal government. The CM said coal-based plants were cost-effective against the thermal-based electricity which was costing Rs 18 per unit, more than double the coal-based electricity. He said 65 per cent of electricity generation in the country was thermal-based for which annual import of diesel and furnace oil was to the tune of $10 billion which was a huge burden on the national kitty. Contrary to it, coal-based electricity would not only enable the government to cut down tariff rate with the passage of time but would also ensure round-the-clock and throughout-the-year electricity production.

Shahbaz Sharif noted from his recent visit to India and Germany where coal-based plants were contributing to over 60 percent need of the total energy. The CM said a complete transparency and fair play would be adopted while calling tenders for setting up coal plants in the private sector. He said proper advertisements would be given through the media and contracts awarded maintaining openness, competitiveness and transparency by March next.

He said the Punjab government would set up two plants of total 1320mw, each costing $1.2 billion. The chief minister said international law on protecting environment would be fully observed by installing low-emission plants. He also told media persons that Railway Minster Khwaja Saad Rafiq had promised to ensure availability and regular transportation of imported coal to the coal-based power plants to be set up in Qadirabad, (district Sahiwal), Bhakhi (Shaikhupura), Haveli Bahadur Shah (Jhang), Balloki (Kasur), Tarinda Sawewala (Rahim Yar Khan and Mauza Karamdad Qureshi (Muzaffargarh) where adequate water and railway lines existed.