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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday plunged into a kind of chaos following verbal "skirmishes" between the treasury and opposition members over prolonged power outages in Karachi, K-Electric's alleged incompetence, and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on Uzair Baloch.

During a discussion on the floor of the Lower House of the Parliament on the issue of load shedding in Karachi, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said the power-related issues of Karachi "would be resolved in a record time" and the federal government was actively taking steps in that regard.

"The cabinet committee on energy held emergency meetings and summoned officials from K-Electric, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), and the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC). Agreements were signed and implemented in record time," he said.

The minister said the absence of a proper power transmission and distribution system in Karachi was the reason behind increased load shedding in the cosmopolitan city.

He reiterated that the federal government would resolve those issues as early as possible.

"Karachi is our city. It is the largest city of Pakistan. The issues related to Karachi are our issues, and we would leave no stone unturned to resolve these issues on a priority basis-as soon as possible," he added.

Umar criticised the previous governments of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), accusing them of not paying attention to the issues of Karachi.

He said that opposition was trying to create an impression in the House that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government privatised the K-Electric.

The K-Electric had been privatised during the tenure of the PML-Q government, and the previous governments of the PPP and the PML-N did not resolve the issues of K-Electric, he said.

Taking the floor, Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan said the federal government was taking steps to improve power supply in Karachi.

The minister said the federal government was providing an additional 100 megawatts of electricity to K-Electric, which was in addition to the agreement signed with the company.

"As many as 30,000 metric tonnes of furnace oil and 100 mmcfd gas have been provided to the company. We will provide more gas to K-Electric, which will help it generate 200 megawatts of power," he added.

However, the minister regretted that the Karachi city's sole power supplier did not upgrade its system over the years, and it was constrained to take additional electricity from the national grid.

He said the federal government would help K-Electric boost its capacity.

He said that K-Electric is in Sindh, and there is a government of the PPP in the province "but it was not resolving the issue".

Earlier, protests erupted in the Lower House of the Parliament as a war of words ensued between woman PPP lawmakers and PTI members during Omar Ayub's speech.

The PPP members chanted "shame! shame! shame!".

Harsh words were also exchanged between Omar Ayub, PPP members and Aslam Khan of the ruling party, the PTI.

This led to a bitter argument between Aslam Khan and the PPP woman lawmakers who surrounded the speaker's dais after Ayub and Aslam allegedly used inappropriate words directed at them during the session.

A rumpus began when a calling attention notice was presented in the assembly by the PPP over unannounced load-shedding in Karachi by KE.

Tensions showed no signs of abating even after Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri asked the PTI lawmaker that they must not speak to lawmakers in this way.

"Women, whether they are from the government or opposition, are to be respected," said the deputy speaker.

Upon deputy speaker's request, the PTI lawmaker, Aslam Khan, apologised to the lawmakers, and stated that he did not target anyone neither did he take anyone's name.

Later, Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed claimed that 'Lyari Gang War' commander Uzair Baloch had illegally occupied 14 sugar mills on the orders of PPP co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari.

Murad Saeed read out Uzair Baloch's purported confessional statement, which resulted in the opposition walking out of the House, and a pair of headphones being thrown at him by PPP's Shazia Soomro.

While speaking in the National Assembly amid opposition's protest, Murad Saeed said that extortion money was being sent to Asif Ali Zardari and his sister, Faryal Talpur. Uzair Baloch had confessed to police encounters, kidnappings for ransom and attacks on police stations, he added.

Saeed also claimed that extortion money collected by Baloch went to former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur.

Reading out Baloch's "confessional" statement, Saeed said the gangster had confessed to taking over a notorious gang after Rahman Dakait was gunned down by the police.

"Uzair Baloch confessed to police encounters, kidnapping for ransom and attacks on police stations," he said.

"Baloch also confessed to him, Faryal Talpur and Asif Zardari receiving extortion money."

He added Baloch also confessed to taking over 14 sugar mills, harassing people living around Bilawal House in Karachi enough to ensure 40 houses around it were vacated.

Three reports on as many government bills, two annual reports of various departments and six periodical reports were also presented in the House.

Chairman Standing Committee on Law and Justice Riaz Fatyana presented reports of the Committee on the Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 4), the Muslim Family Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 7), and the Enforcement of Women's Property Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

On behalf of Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan laid the annual report of Universal Service and Research and Development Fund of the federal government.

Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan presented the annual report of the National Economic Council for the financial year 2018-2019.

A total of six periodical reports of the Standing Committees on Railways, Communications, Defence, Privatization, Housing and Works, and Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, were presented in the House for the period January-June, 2019 as required by rule 234-A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020