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ISLAMABAD: Two weeks after welcoming the caretaker set-up, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has criticised it for allegedly acting in the interest of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and has advised the interim government not to play politics.

“The way the caretaker minister for power defended the issue of electricity was alarming. It was as if Shahbaz Sharif himself was speaking,” said Babar Awan, a senior leader of the PTI. “Those who have nothing to do with the electricity issue are also claiming that there is sufficient generation. The caretaker government should tell us why, if there is enough electricity in the grid, there are power outages all over the country?”

On June 12, caretaker Minister for Power Syed Ali Zafar during a press conference said that load-shedding would no longer be a problem as the gap between demand and supply of electricity would be brought down to a negligible level in the current month. He also claimed that about 22,000 megawatts of electricity was being produced, while the demand had peaked at 24,000MW. The minister further said that the country had a total power generation capacity of 28,000MW — which would indicate that production was not an issue.

After the news conference, Punjab’s former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif posted a message on his Facebook page, saying that even the caretaker government had accepted that the power generation capacity exceeded all demand. This, the ex-chief minister said, was an endorsement of the tremendous contributions the PML-N had made to the crumbling energy sector of the country. The social media post concluded that the PML-N had added 11,000MW to the national grid, which is “61 per cent of the total capacity developed in 66 years. Certainly, actions speak louder than words.”

Responding to Mr Awan’s comments, Pervaiz Rashid, a senior leader of the PML-N, while talking to Dawn said that the caretaker minister had made a valid observation about the power generation in the country. “It is a fact that our government has worked a lot on electricity, enabling us to manage the power crisis. The PTI should recall that five years ago, people used to protest and block roads over load-shedding problems, but now no one is complaining and that is because people have electricity in their homes being supplied by the national grid,” he said.

He added further, that it was astonishing that Mr Awan was talking about electricity, considering that he was responsible for delaying the Nandipur project by slowing down the process — when he was the law minister — to the point that the machinery sitting at the port became scrap after the three-year wait.

Rigged elections predicted

Meanwhile, the PTI raised concerns over the transparency of the upcoming elections and alleged that rigged results were not an improbability. Mr Awan said that in every district of Punjab, the revenue and police departments had been prepared for rigging. How could elections be free and fair in such an environment, he questioned.

Mr Awan claimed that one need not go further than scrutinising the selection process of the new chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to see that the elections might be rigged. Nadra, he said, had all information concerning the election and it was being leaked to the PML-N.

Mr Awan also claimed that a civilian intelligence agency had established an election cell. He said that these cells were created for a purpose.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018

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