Tuesday Jun 29, 2021
KARACHI: Social media once again turned into a battleground as passionate PTI and PML-N ministers took to Twitter to claim victory as a fiery debate between Miftah Ismail and Hammad Azhar, respectively, took place on Geo News Monday night.
Ismail and Azhar both appeared on Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath to speak on Pakistan's economic situation and energy shortages. As expected, while Ismail claimed Pakistan was on a trajectory of economic growth during the PML-N's regime, Azhar disagreed as both traded barbs and threw facts at one another.
Speaking on the recent gas crisis, the energy minister said it had not taken place due to dry docking of Engro LNG terminal, adding that the crisis would have multiplied had the shortage had occurred in winters.
He said the LNG terminals were not utilised by the PML-N government. In response, Ismail accused the PTI government of not being competent enough to foresee the gas crisis, adding that the incumbent government was buying gas at a higher rate than its predecessor.
The debate turned into a heated exchange when Ismail accused the PTI of being inconsistent in its criticism of the PML-N, saying that it accused the PML-N regime of setting up too many power plants during winters and in summer, said the exact opposite: that it had set up too less power plants.
Azhar rejected the allegations, saying that the PTI government was buying gas from abroad at a 20% lower rate. He lashed out at the previous government, saying Pakistan had to update and sign another Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia over the gas pipeline project since "it lacked structure" and both countries were not aware as to how the project would carry on.
Taking a jibe at Ismail, Azhar said if he was to go into the details of the PML-N's LNG transactions, "another NAB case will be filed against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi".
When the debate ended, with neither side willing to concede, Twitter became a battleground as the PTI and PML-N leading figures took shots at each other.
PML-N's Marriyum Aurangzeb gave Ismail a pat on the back for exposing PTI's "incompetence, lies and corruption" in the energy sector.
The PTI responded by putting up a screengrab from the show, in which Ismail can be seen holding his head in exasperation as Azhar responds to his criticism.
The PTI said while it was happy Ismail had been responded to with facts and figures, it was afraid no PML-N leader would now debate a government representative on TV.
Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry also said Ismail had once again been proven "a big failure in decent debate".
The PTI and the PML-N have, consistently over the last couple of years, blamed each other for Pakistan's energy sector woes. With the recent gas shortage across the country, the two parties have once again started pointing fingers at each other.