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ISLAMABAD: This time it was no other than the outspoken Noor Alam Khan who once again accused his own party government of misleading the parliament about prolonged 18-22 hours long load-shedding in the country.

Speaking in National Assembly, the PTI MNA from Peshawar said that the 12 hours load-shedding in most parts of the country is a 'white lie' as officials from Pesco, Kesco, Lesco, Hesco, Lesco, etc the power distribution companies are lying to the power minister about load-shedding.

"The minister [Hammad Azahr Khan] is like a brother to me, but I'm member of Public Accounts Committee [PAC) [and] there we see the reports, which are completely opposite to what we hear from the ministers [about load-shedding]," he added.

He continued that the officials and linemen of the power distribution companies are involved in power theft, and there is a need to fix responsibility on these people as lawmakers could not face people at their constituencies due to prolonged load-shedding.

"The people are being forced to pay [electricity] bills without getting any electricity. The transformers are overloaded and other equipments are also outdated due to which, the people are facing worst kind of load-shedding almost all over the country," he lamented.

The MNA said that entrusting power distribution jobs to half-literate clerics instead of SDOs [sub divisional officers] who are supposed to be qualified engineers in most of the power distribution companies, is one of the major reasons for the poor management of electricity in the country.

The vacant positions of SDOs should be filled with qualified engineers immediately, he said, adding we are here to serve the people of the country as we are not rulers and we should not act like rulers.

"The corrupt power officials should be given exemplary punishment rather their cases should be referred to NAB [National Accountability Bureau]," he added.

The MNA also raised a very pertinent question: if there is a shortfall of electricity and if the institution is going on loss, why employees associated with power distribution companies are given free of cost electricity.

"A poor daily wage labourer - who often goes home without earning a single penny - had to pay his electricity bill come what may, but an XEn, a lineman, a cleric, an engineer, and all others working for Wapda and other power generation companies, are given free of cost electricity. Why is this double-standard," he questioned.

He said that the people are suffering due to load-shedding, but the Pesco chief and their subordinate staff are 'relaxing' by sitting in their luxury offices with three to four air conditioners working round the clock, adding poor people could not even lodge their complaint to these baboos sitting in these offices.

"Tell me, when these injustices with the people of the country will be stopped," a visibly disappointed Noor Alam roared on the floor of the house - in an obvious reference to the promises made with nation by his leader - Prime Minister Imran Khan - who had promised to rein in the unbridled baboos after coming into power.

Responding to the MNA, minister for energy Hammad Azhar said: the MNA did a wonderful speech amid desk thumping and a huge applause from the opposition benches but can anyone tell me: was it Imran Khan who is responsible for the corrupt system we've inherited from the past rulers?

Hammad who is believed to be a good speaker and had earned appreciation from no other than Prime Minister Imran Khan on several occasions for taking on his opponents, blamed PML-N for the current expensive electricity, saying they had signed agreements at 50pc higher rates due to which we are facing these issues.

He continued that no a single penny was invested on infrastructure and transmission in the last ten years, and questioned: was it Imran Khan who appointed linemen and metre readers on political basis.

"Giving a hard-hitting speech is too easy but working and proving oneself is an uphill task. It's very easy to compel the opposition to thump the desk by speaking against the government but it's very difficult to work with honesty," he said in an obvious reference to his party MNA's speech which left the government red-faced.

"I can also get the attention of the opposition quite easily by saying something against my government but let me tell you that no government has ever worked hard like we are doing. We're cleaning the litre left by these two parties [PPP and PML-N]," he declared.

The minister claimed that Pakistan will get 50pc surplus electricity by 2023, but even then we will have to pay Rs1500 billion per year for the expensive electricity contracts signed by the previous regime.

He said that Pakistan's power generation capacity is more than 30,000MW, but our system can only transmit 24,000MW.

"It is not the fault of Imran Khan...it's the fault of these two regimes [PPP and PML-N]. And today as member of PTI, it's my responsibility to tell the nation how these parties destroyed the whole system," he declared.

A visibly perturbed minister over opposition's applause for Noor Alam's speech, advised the fellow lawmaker from Peshawar not to do politics for the sake of cheap publicity, and instead expose the wrongdoings of the past rulers who destroyed the whole system through their wrong policies.

He vowed to put the system back on track by undoing the flawed policies of PML-N as its expensive contracts with LNG and IPPs were renegotiated and contended that circular debt which he insisted will be not more Rs200-250 billion compared to Rs400-450 billion of PML-N.

Eight bills were introduced in the National Assembly. Three of them were "The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021" aimed at amendments in Article-185, 51, 106, 11 and 25A, while the other bills include "The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021", "The High Court (Establishment) (Amendment) Bill, 2021", "The Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2021", "The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021", and "The Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021."

The bills were referred the concerned standing committees of the house.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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