Islamabad: Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Power and Petroleum, Tabish Gauhar has resigned after being undermined at different fora through rejection of his draft policies/proposals, well informed sources told Business Recorder.
According to the Cabinet Division Prime Minister Imran Khan has accepted the resignation of Gauhar, who will be leaving for Dubai soon where his family is residing. He had been given the additional portfolio of Petroleum, after removal of Nadeem Babar due to the petrol crisis in the country.
Gauhar is also facing a similar probe but this time Minister for Railways, Senator Azam Swati has been given the task instead of the FIA, as was the case with Nadeem Babar. The report of Swati is about to be unveiled.
The sources said Gauhar had also developed differences with powerful Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives/Chairman Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCoE) Asad Umar and his close friend Minister Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi and more recently with Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar.
Gauhar had distanced himself from the Power Division, which is evident from the fact that he had not sat in his office in the Power Division for months.
The sources maintained that Gauhar during a chat with energy sector reporters admitted that some of his cabinet colleagues with portfolios outside the ambit of the energy ministry were interfering into the matters relating to the energy sector and creating hurdles.
However, at the same time, Gauhar stated that he was answerable to the Prime Minister, who earlier did not accept his resignation and recalled him from Dubai.
There was a very strong impression in the power corridors of federal capital that Gauhar is looking after the interests of some powerful people in the energy sector including oil refineries.
The sources said a tense match was witnessed between Tabish Gauhar and his cabinet colleagues i.e., Asad Umar, Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, Ali Zaidi, Abdul Razak Dawood and Hammad Azhar, who joined hands to reject the incentives to refineries envisaged in the first draft of the policy prepared by Gauhar.
Asad Umar argued that “it appeared as if one particular set of investors was being offered a unique package, which is fundamentally wrong.”
Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood made a charge more specific to Byco refinery. “Byco installed poor quality refinery in the past and made a lot of money by exploiting loopholes in government policy. Therefore, upfront 40% payment without any stake is not recommended,” he reportedly said.
Insiders claim that Dawood has a grudge against M/s Byco as the latter had rejected some low quality work done by M/s Descon Engineering, a company he owned by him.
Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar stated that the policy must include clear benchmarks for the up-gradation of refineries to avoid any litigation in the future.
The appointment of Chairman and members of Discos’ Board of Directors was challenged by the Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Power, Saifullah Abro.
Gauhar wrote in his tweet “after a year of public service, I’ve decided to call it a day to return to my family. It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to serve the country, to the best of my abilities in an honourary capacity, I shall remain indebted to the PM for giving me this opportunity.”
He further stated “whilst the challenges in the energy sector are manifold, I have no doubt that under the able leadership of Hammad Azhar, the MoE team will continue to stay the course on structural reforms. May Allah continue to bless Pakistan- Ameen.”
Minister for Energy, Hammad Azhar, who is also blamed for Gauhar’s resignation praised him in a tweet saying: “I was privileged to work closely with Tabish. We benefited from his input and professionalism. He remained away from his family for a whole year to serve his country. We thank him and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.”
Some of the energy sector stakeholders, who faced a hard time due to Gauhar are now jubilant but at the same time those who had close connections with him are depressed.
The sources said “stalled” issues would now be resolved: Karachi Electric (KE) signing the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with CPPA-G and NTDC will be resolved in the days to come. Likewise, the issue of National Security Certificate (NSC) is also likely to be resolved, which is necessary for sale of M/s Abraaj’s 66.40 per cent stakes to Chinese company, Shanghai Power.
SAPM on CPEC, Khalid Mansoor is said to be a strong contender for the position of SAMP on Power.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021