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pakistan
Wednesday Jul 08 2020
By
Web Desk

PTI and Opposition lock horns in NA over 'fake' licenses, Karachi power crisis

By
Web Desk
Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan addressing the National Assembly, in Islamabad, on July 8, 2020. — Radio Pakistan

The PTI-led government and opposition exchanged heated words in the National Assembly on Wednesday over Karachi's persisting power crisis and the country's "fake" licenses scandal.

Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the European Union's aviation agency, in 2007, had suspended the country's airlines from entering its airspace.

"Such suspensions, out of serious concerns, take place but they are temporary," Sarwar said while answering the call to attention notice moved by PML-N.

Sarwar said that the former governments had not paid attention to the maintenance of safety protocols in airlines. "We presented the airplane incident's report in the House."

The federal minister said that action was taken on the directives of the Supreme Court, after which 658 people were found having "fake" degrees.

Ninety engineers and 28 pilots had "fake degrees," Sarwar said.

"During the inquiry, the number of pilots having fake credentials increased," he said, adding: "Fixing the [state] institutions is our mandate."

The aviation minister highlighted that the national carrier was already faced with a Rs462 billion debt and that due to coronavirus, it faces a further crisis.

Meanwhile, he said that criminal cases would be filed against 58 pilots whose licenses were canceled.

"An additional 34 pilots have been grounded [...] Institutions have been ruthlessly destroyed [by past governments]," he said.

The minister was confident the EU will be pleased after the "clean-up", in a possible reference to the sacking of pilots suspected of having dubious licenses. A day earlier, information minister Shibli Faraz had announced the cabinet's approval for the removal of 28 pilots from service, whose licenses were found suspicious.

"The ones who acted unlawfully will be sent behind bars and those who backed them will be exposed," he said, adding that in a few days, Pakistan will appeal against the decision of the EU's aviation authority.

Meanwhile, PML-N’s Murtaza Javed Abbasi, taking aim at the Centre said that in PTI’s tenure institutions were made a mess of like never before.

”The jobs of 100 [Pakistani] pilots are at stake,” he said, adding that the list of pilots having ”fake degrees” had several errors.

”The federal minister’s inexperience and his statement, have cost the national carrier a great deal,” Abbasi said.

Sarwar refuted Abbasi’s claim and said that the list pertained to 262 suspected pilots and did not consist of those who had "fake" licenses.

”A forensic inquiry has been going on for the past year and four months,” he said, adding that action had been taken against 54 pilots and 28 had been dismissed.

”An additional 34 pilots have been suspended,” he said.

The federal minister said that "may God curse those who lie". ”You [PML-N] used to take payment and renew licences every six months  [...] we have changed the aviation policy and now licenses will be renewed every five years.”

Sarwar went on to say that Nawaz Sharif was "among the ten most corrupt prime ministers of the world".

Power minister says KE facilitated

Federal Minister for Energy Omar Ayub said the PTI government had been working to resolve Karachi's power issues and slammed the PPP and PML-N for not addressing them in their respective tenures.

Addressing the National Assembly, he said: "Why did you not make any common delivery points for K-Electric. Both parties — PPP and PML-N — have remained in power [for several terms]."

"KE has been provided with an additional 100mmcfd gas. We have given residual fuel oil (RFO) to them on loan so that their power plants may run," he said, adding that an additional 100MW electricity was also given to the power utility.

Ayub said that Karachi was the heart of the country and that it needed to remain functional, therefore, the cabinet has approved the decision for KE to build two common delivery points and two 500KVA grids so that they don't have to face any supply issues after 2022.

"The opposition has the right to address the issues of their respective constituencies here, but it should be based on facts — not point-scoring," Ayub said.

Talking about the infrastructure of Sindh, he said that members from the treasury bench, including Federal Minister Ali Zaidi, were raising their voice over the clogging of sewers in Karachi and bringing it to the provincial government's attention.

"It is the responsibility of the PPP to get them cleaned. Our allies from MQM-P and Fehmida Mirza of Grand Democratic Alliance have raised similar problems multiple times. COVID-19 medicines are being recovered from graveyards in Sindh. Why isn't the government taking action against these problems," he said.

Ayub urged the opposition parties to put aside politics and deliver solutions to the people.

'Review Karachi's issues immediately' 

PML-N's stalwart Ahsan Iqbal, while raising Karachi's issues on the floor of the house, demanded that the metropolis' problems should be reviewed immediately and a committee be formed to resolve them.

Ahsan Iqbal addressing in National Assembly, on July 8, 2020. — Geo News

Meanwhile, a PTI member, Faheem Khan, said that KE had become a "bully" and that action should be taken against the power utility.

"The PPP made an agreement with them and people are being punished for it," he added.

Refuting claims that the PPP had struck a deal with the power utility, senior party leader Syed Naveed Qamar said that the company was privatised in Shaukat Aziz's tenure.

"We are with you on the issue of K-Electric," assured Qamar, adding that steps were needed to be taken against it.

Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said that since the day KE had come into being, problems had begun.

"This house is the representative of 220 million people [...] The people expect us to solve their problems."