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Prime Minister’s critique

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of international terminal at Sialkot Airport, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbsasi described the opposition parties as unruly elements who spread Chaos in the country over the last four years to stop the development agenda of PML-Government. He said the government has completed all the projects that it started after coming into power. He claimed that energy projects of 10000 megawatts will substantially bring down the price of electricity.

In democratic system of governments, protest rallies and sit-ins are part and parcel of the democracy and these do not bring Chaos if the sitting government behaves democratically and address the genuine demands of the people agitated by the opposition political parties. Had the PM -N leadership shown political sagacity and accepted PTI,s demand of opening of four National Assembly constituencies,  a sit-in of 126 days in D-Square of Islamabad  in 2014 could have been avoided. Had the Terms of Reference been framed on consensus between the government an opposition for setting up a Judicial Commission to probe the Panama Papers allegations of money laundering and corrupt practices against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members, PTI would have not resorted to lockdown of Islamabad. The massive use of force against  the rally of KP Chief Minister at Sawabi and Haroonabad on Motorway M-1 was not only a dictatorial decision but it was also, what Senator Aitezaz Ahsan called, a sever blow to federation. The Faizabad sit-in by TLYRA was an engineered show of the former disqualified Prime Minister and its un-interrupted journey from Lahore to the gateway of Islamabad was facilitated by Shabaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab. Hence throwing its debris on the opposition is not justified.

There is no denying the fact that the present government has completed a number of motorways and metro bus projects at very high construction cost if compared with similar projects in China, India and Turkey, but at the same time ignored the highly productive projects of Kalbagh, Diya Mir Basha, Dasu, Monda and Kurram Tangi Dams. These projects are inevitable for steering the economy out from the current state of chronic stagnation and putting it back on the road to take off stage of economic growth, eventually inducting it into sustained stage of economic growth. The multidimensional hydropower mega projects are environment friendly and generating inexpensive power to give a big boost to the productivity of agriculture and manufacturing sectors, ensuring competitive edge agriculture commodities and industrial goods for increasing exports. Because of the ill conceived fiscal policy of the present government our exports have lost comparative advantage.  Motorways have not helped in improving the economic environment for local and foreign investment for which the availability of low price energy inputs and skilled manpower are the basic requirements. The tariff of LNG is $ 11 per mbtu because of shady deal with Qatar and the commercial price of electric y is Rs. 25 plus whereas in India the LNG imported from Qatar is sold at $ 7 per mbtu and the price of electricity is Rs. 5 per unit.

The claim that new thermal power plants will bring down electricity tariff is debatable. Most of the new thermal power plants will be run with coal imported from China. The price of electricity generated by the China private sector companies will be fixed and revised arbitrarily by the managements of these companies and the government of Pakistan will have no say in tariff determination. That is why the government has accepted Chinese demand of creating a revolving fund in commercial banks to make sure timely payment to power companies. This unjust demand was accepted in Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting on 21st November 2017 to firm up CPEC long term plan. Moreover, the Chinese thermal power technology does not have a built-in provision of Carbon Scrubbles like the German one to reduce the emission of Carbon Mono Oxide and other poisonous gases in the air. The Chinese thermal power plants will be then the major cause of spreading diseases of Asthma and Cancer in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Key to rapid economic development lies in massive investment in education and health but the PML-N government has diverted billions of rupees of funds allocated for education and health to the projects like Lahore Orange Train and Motorways. This is a lopsided development policy, adding to miseries of common man. The ruling party leadership should better set people friendly development priorities instead of focusing on opposition bashing.

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