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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly was informed on Thursday that a high-level delegation will visit Russia shortly to negotiate any possibility of long-term cooperation to buy cheap oil and gas to overcome the growing energy crisis in the country.

During question hour, the parliamentary secretary for Petroleum Division Hamid Hameed said Russia has not offered to supply gas to Pakistan still, but the government has written a letter to Russian authorities on October 11, showing interest in Russian side to procure two to three cargoes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for the month of December 2022 and January next year at discounted price and deferred payment facility.

He said the Russian side has expressed its inability to provide the same for these months. However, with the visit of the high-level delegation from Pakistan, he added, things would be clear.

He said that 229 fields are producing oil and gas in the country, adding a total of 16 new reservoirs of oil and gas were discovered during the last year.

He said some blocks for exploration of oil and gas under sea will be offered for auction next year.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said that an effective anti-encroachment operation with the support of local administration and the Frontier Corps (FC) would be launched to retrieve encroached land of Zhob Railway station.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Qadir Khan Mandokhail and Aliya Kamran, he said that the land has been encroached for the last 37 years and unfortunately, no attention was given in the past in that regard.

Responding to another calling attention, the parliamentary secretary for interior Muhammad Sajjad said that the sale and lease of commercial buildings for residential purposes are not permissible in Islamabad without completion certificate.

Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi said that no proposal to withdraw powers of provincial election commissioners for appointments is under consideration.

In a written reply, he said that some disputed appointments were made in the office of Election Commissioner Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in 2019.

The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sikander Sultan Raja, taking notice of illegal appointments in the provincial office of the election commission, had initiated proceedings against the responsible officers under Civil Servants (Efficiency & Discipline) Rules, 2020 and imposed penalties on the officers involved and those who were recruited.

He said that there were eight ex-officials who were appointed illegally in the provincial office of the election commission.

Replying to a question asked by Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali that whether any proposal is under consideration to withdraw appointment powers from provincial officers of the election commission, he categorically denied that no such proposal was under consideration.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader in National Assembly Raja Riaz, a PTI dissident, welcomed the signing of the prime minister's summary for the appointment of CJCSC and COAS by President Dr Arif Alvi.

He expressed hope that the new military leadership would continue working for the national interest.

The house also passed a bill to further amend the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils Act, 1973 with majority votes.

The bill was presented by Mohsin Dawar who said that the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) had no representation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bar council.

Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani sought the sense of the house who voted in favour of the bill and consequently the bill was passed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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