Power Crisis To End By First Week Of May: Asif

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Wednesday admitted that it is his government’s ‘failure’ to mitigate power crisis during previous days and assured to deal it by the month of May.

“We admit our mistake of this temporary power crisis during the last couple of days but it will surely be dealt in eight to 10 days, as the closed power plants would soon start producing electricity,” he said while responding on a call-attention notice, raised by lawmakers of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

To a question-cum-objection for not controlling power outages, the minister said that the incumbent government had promised to end loadshedding before the next general election. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif never said that the loadshedding will end by 2017,” he made it clear, and also assured to end unscheduled power outages in the country.

He tried to clarify that an unexpected power crisis happened in the past some days because of early heatwave and closure of some plants. “We are not spiritual personalities (Peer) who can guess the upcoming things,” he said in a lighter vein. Because of ‘unexpected’ surge in power demand, the gap between demand and supply has widened further, he said.

He said the power demand increased by 2,700 megawatts as compared to the same month last year. “After the closure of the plants for maintenance, the country faced an outage of 2,200mw,” he said, mentioning that this temporarily would be recovered but the schedule loadshedding shall continue.

“Nandipur power plant had started already producing 525mw while 3,600mw power would come from LNG power projects, 600mw from Sahiwal plant, 600mw from the Neelum-Jehlum, 600mw from the Sahiwal-II, 435mw from solar plants and 315mw from Chashma-IV,” he told the House. Over 3,000mw power would also be added to the system in the start of the next year, he said.

During the session, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) and the Jamaat Islami (JI) strongly opposed the idea to make any amendments in blasphemy law. Both the parties expressed their resolve to not support any government for introducing any ‘changes’ in the law. On Tuesday, the House passed a resolution seeking strong safeguards against the misuse of the blasphemy law by vigilante mobs.

Through the resolution, the House resolves to ensure that strong safeguards may be inserted into the blasphemy law to prevent its abuse through such atrocities in the future including by mobs involved in such crimes,” says the resolution while condemning the incident of Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of Mass Communication Department at Abdul Wali Khan University, who was shot and beaten to death on the campus by a mob on April 13, accusing him of blasphemy.

On a point of order, Jamaat leader Sahibzada Tariqullah said that there was a need of investigation on the incident of Mashal Khan. “We condemn it but not ready for amendment in the blasphemy law,” he said. JUI-F leader Naeema Kishwar said that the blasphemy law was a complete law. “They (JUI-F) would not favour any attempt to bring changes in the law,” she remarked.

Earlier, PPP for the fifth consecutive day boycotted the proceedings of the House for not presenting disappeared members of the party before a magistrate. “It is violation of constitutional amendment passed last month,” said Syed Khursheed Shah before staging walkout from the proceedings.

PPP’s lawmaker Shagufta Jumani also tried to disrupt proceedings of the House by pointing out quorum. Unlike previous four days, the required strength was present in the House. Shah came down hard on the government for not maintaining quorum in the house. He said that the prime minister should have come to participate in the proceedings.

QURAN BILL: On Wednesday, the National Assembly passed ‘The Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill, 2017, aimed at making teaching of the Islamic book compulsory to Muslim students in educational institutions. The lawmakers from both the sides lauded the government for passing the bill.

State Minister for Education and Professional Training Balighur Rehman, mover of the bill, said that this bill would ensure teaching of the Holy Quran compulsory to only Muslim students in the educational institutions. He also ensured to implement it in private education institutes as well.