ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee Thursday alleged that the government is following ‘dual policy’ regarding security to Chinese and other foreign investors and pressed authorities to provide uniform security to all investors.

“Pakistan has been allegedly following a ‘dual policy’ regarding security provision to investors and is dealing differently with Chinese and other foreign investors,” said by senators during meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources that met here with Senator Muhammad Yousaf in chair.

The committee grilled the ministry of interior for being unable to provide foolproof security to the workers of a polish company “Geofizyka Krakow” which recently entered into a contract with the E&P Company for seismic survey of Pothowar South and Baska North Blocks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Government’s dual policy is causing a huge loss to potential foreign investment in the country, the committee noted. The committee pressed the government to provide same security to other investors as well. The foreign company “Geofizyka Krakow” is a partner organisation of a firm owned by Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi, member of the committee who had forwarded the complaint against the interior ministry to the petroleum committee. “The foreign company wants protection by the rangers as they do not trust the police,” Senator Afridi said, adding, “If there are no rangers or FC in the country – does that mean that we raise our own battalion of guards.”

Rubina Irfan, a sitting senator from Baluchistan, who has been facing the brunt of insecurity since long said, “I was attacked last year and the police could not do anything while the FC is too busy fighting terrorists.”

Senator Fateh Muhammad Hassani pointing towards officials of interior ministry said, “You have imposed ban on new arms licenses for us, do terrorists ask for permission from you.” The interior officials were unable to satisfy the committee as they were taking refuge behind one sentence, “Our civil armed forces are heavily over stretched and it is impossible to spare them. As a policy, we regret such provision, as the rangers are already overstretched to provide security,” Tariq Mehmood, Additional Secretary ministry of interior said.

Mehmood said that the law and order was the responsibility provinces and the interior ministry forces were too occupied in maintaining security at various internal fronts. “The FC and the Rangers are too overstretched and the ministry has expressed the same inability to nine other requests including Wapda’s,” he said.

He told the committee that keeping this in mind the government has decided to raise a separate division consisting of six paramilitary wings and eight army battalions for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi said that for CPEC, the government has raised a special security division, but for other foreign investors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, the government is making excuses. Senator Sardar Muhammad Azam Khan Musakhel said that it indicates that the state has failed. “It seems that the government has a plan to keep the poor provinces’ resources [i.e. Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] untapped to keep them underdeveloped and to let them die of starvation,” he said.

Federal Secretary Petroleum and natural resources responded that the oil and gas production and exploration is their priority. He said that due to low production, the government was relying on imported oil and gas. It was finally decided that the interior ministry would respond in 15 days with a solution to the crises.

“We want you to come up with a practical approach in this regard, as the current policy to provide security for CPEC and leave others unattended –is unfair,” said Senator Muhammad Yousuf who chaired the committee in the absence of chairman of the committee Mir israrullah Khan Zehri who is out of the country.

The committee also asked OGRA as to why it has failed in controlling the smuggling of Iranian and Iraqi petroleum products into Pakistan. “The oil mafia’ that is bribing provincial administration to smuggle it in the country through land and sea routes,” the chairman committee said. A private petitioner Shahbaz Khan Musakhel informed the committee that he wanted to establish a filling station of an OMC Askar-1, but he was told by the OGRA that it was a banned firm but at the same time NOCs were issued to several other stations. “This company has licence to operate only in Punjab where it has 290 stations, but it also has 64 stations in KP, 22 in Sindh, five each in Baluchistan and Gilgit Baltistan and eight in Azad Jammu & Kashmir,” Musakhel told the committee.

The OGRA chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan openly expressed that the regulator was helpless in stopping operations across the country by a banned oil company.

Senator Nisar Muhammad said, “It is OGRA’s duty to control illegal activities and smuggling.” Chairman OGRA said that the company was established in 2005, but so far it has not established 20 days backup storage facility. “The firm was fined in 2010 and in 2011 and was banned except for Punjab and recently OGRA fined Rs21 million but this company obtained stay order from the Lahore High Court,” chairman OGRA said. “We have written letters to Chief Secretaries of the provinces and all the deputy commissioners (DCs) in this regard, but in vain,” he told the committee. “This is a local company but we do not know from where they are getting the fuel from, because they are not importing it,” he added.

The chairman OGRA’s reply further tensed the atmosphere in the committee. The committee decided to form a sub-committee in the next meeting to determine the magnum of malpractices in the oil business.