ISLAMABAD, Sept 26: The federal cabinet met on Wednesday with the Karachi law and order situation and energy crisis on top of its heavy agenda, but the first issue could not be taken up apparently because of the absence of ministers belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the second was put off to a special meeting next week after a heated discussion.
Sources told Dawn that soon after the opening remarks of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf a number of ministers expressed concern over prolonged loadshedding across the country and said they feared a serious voter backlash in the coming elections.
Some members, according to the sources, said that people running crucial ministries had no fear of facing people in elections because they had no constituencies.
The sources said the prime minister also expressed annoyance over the situation and said that never in the past the country had witnessed such a big electricity shortfall in September and October.
Officials of the ministry of water and power briefed the cabinet on the power situation but failed to satisfy the members, forcing the prime minister to announce that a special cabinet meeting would be held next week on a one-point agenda to suggest measures to reduce loadshedding and to discuss the overall energy situation.
In the meeting, the ministers for finance, water and power and petroleum and natural resources would brief the cabinet.
Three MQM ministers stayed away from the meeting and the electronic media kept on announcing that the Muttahida had boycotted the meeting in line with its three-day ultimatum given to the government to meet the promises it had made.
But a spokesman for the MQM Zahid Mehmood Malik, when contacted, said the party’s two federal ministers — Dr Farooq Sattar and Babar Khan Ghauri — could not attend the meeting because they were abroad. Moreover, he said, since the ministers of state had not been invited, Dr Nadeem Ehsan, minister of state for overseas Pakistanis, did not attend the meeting.
According to a handout issued after the meeting, the prime minister said in his opening remarks that in the first meeting of his cabinet he had announced that addressing the energy crisis would be top priority of the government.
The government, he said, was trying sincerely to enhance capacity of power plants to overcome the energy crisis. He said the government was committed to achieving energy security, though it was a Herculean task.
Mr Ashraf said that Pakistan was the first country to register a protest at the national level against the anti-Islam film and the government condemned it at all forums.
He said he was upset to see some miscreants destroying and damaging public and private property on the Yaum-i-Ishq-i-Rasool. However, he was pleased to see the youth who were repairing the damage caused by unruly protesters.
The cabinet approved the national climate change policy framed under the guidelines of the UN Framework Convention.
The prime minister directed that Islamabad should be declared a model city and the climate change policy be implemented in letter and spirit.
The meeting approved initiation of negotiations for trilateral transit trade agreement among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan and signing of a revised draft MoU between Pakistan and Russia for defence cooperation.