ISLAMABAD: Leader of Opposition in Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan sees the ruling Sharif family’s business interests behind mismanagement of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) operations.

“Mismanagement of the PSM is an open and shut case of conflict of business interests between the Sharif family and the state,” the PPP leader said while speaking on an adjournment motion in the Senate on Friday. The issue of chronic misgoverning the PSM was taken up on the motion submitted by PPP’s Saeed Ghani.

Mr Ghani sought discussion on disconnection of supply to the PSM by the Sui Sothern Gas Company (SSGC) which had brought its operations to halt.

Also read: Govt team likely to go to China to market PSM

In a hard-hitting but brief statement, Senator Ahsan said that since the present government had come to power, every road, footbath and canal in Lahore had been covered with iron fencing. Then, he added, there was construction of bridges and roads which all needed iron.

“Who doesn’t know which family in the country has the biggest business interest in the production and consumption of iron? Therefore, it’s a matter of common sense that if the PSM fails, others who produce iron in the country will have a field day.”

He didn’t mince words in accusing the federal government of deliberately taking measures which would lead to further deterioration in the PSM which he claimed had the capacity to meet the country’s iron needs.


Who doesn’t know which family in the country has the biggest business interest in the production and consumption of iron?


“I know that the ministers concerned will give a number of reasons as to why the Pakistan Steel Mills is continuously running in loss. However, to me the fact remains that the Sharifs don’t want the mills to be put on the right track.”

Another PPP senator and former finance minister Saleem Mandviwalla said the government’s obvious disinterest in the PSM was a clear indication that a case was being made for its privatisation by presenting it as a ‘sick unit’. He said the past PPP government had provided bailout packages to the PSM which the current rulers were reluctant to release.

Azam Swati of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said it was strange that a government which boasted day in and day out about its management skills was failing everywhere, including in the PSM. He said the PSM only required good management which the PML-N government had miserably failed to provide.

Responding to the criticism, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan said the issue wasn’t as simple as being painted by the opposition. “There are serious issues with regard to the PSM’s mismanagement which have been building up and it’s a bit unfair to put the entire blame on the present government.”

He said the Pakistan Steel Mills owed Rs35 billion to the SSGC and the amount had accumulated over two decades.

“Since the SSGC buys gas from the OGDCL, the chronic failure on part of the PSM to clear its dues has been causing problems in smoothly running its operations.”

Avoiding directly responding to the scathing attack by Senator Ahsan on the ruling family, the minister said the production of the PSM had severely eroded over the years and according to the latest reports it was operating at five to six per cent of its capacity.

The minister ejected the perception that the government was pushing the PSM towards privatisation. “The government is trying its level best to do whatever is good for the PSM, because nobody is against the public sector institutions.”

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2015

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