PPP, PTI trade barbs as gas crisis persists in Sindh

Updated 30 Sep 2020


PPP activists protest outside the SSGC office on Tuesday over persisting gas crisis. — Dawn
PPP activists protest outside the SSGC office on Tuesday over persisting gas crisis. — Dawn

KARACHI: The already strained relations between the Pakistan Peoples Party government in Sindh and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s government at the Centre witnessed another low on Tuesday when the PPP accused the centre and its institutions, including the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), of depriving the province of its due share in gas. This has ultimately led to an electricity crisis in Karachi, the party argued.

However, the PTI rejected the accusation and accused the PPP government of not allowing a new pipeline in the metropolis, hence causing the gas and power crises.

First came the PPP, which staged a protest demonstration outside the SSGC head office near Hassan Square. Scores of its workers took part in the protest and raised slogans against the gas crisis.

Speaking to them, PPP leaders said that denying Sindh of its due share in gas was not only a violation of the Constitution but this was also creating a sense of deprivation among the people of the province.

They urged the federal government to resolve the issue ahead of the approaching winter season, when demand of gas would increased manifold.

PPP holds protest outside SSGC office, PTI stages demo in front of CM House

“We often hear federal ministers claiming that the provincial government is responsible for the gas shortage in Sindh. This is a serious joke,” said Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, who is also president of the party’s Karachi division.

“The federal government should not shift the blame of its incompetence to others. We are not getting gas in any department and the blame has been put on the provincial government. The federal government is responsible. This is the job of the federal government,” he said.

Quoting Article 158 of the Constitution, Mr Ghani said the the province which produced gas had the first right on it and then the remaining gas could be supplied to other provinces.

He said Sindh produced 70 per cent of the country’s gas but the people of the province had been facing gas loadshedding and shortages in almost all the sectors.

He said they previously kept silent over the situation only because the people of other provinces were at least getting the facility.

The demonstration was also addressed by senior PPP leader and CM’s Adviser Waqar Mehdi.

He termed the PTI government ‘anti-people’ and said the rulers had once again burdened the poor people by increasing gas and electricity tariffs.

“Electricity and gas are in the domain of the federal government and it cannot blame any province [for the crises]. The government is trying to hide behind its lies because Sindh has first right of use on its natural resources,” he added.

PTI rejects accusation

Later, PTI members of the national and Sindh assemblies from Karachi proceeded to the CM House to file a memorandum seeking right of way from the Sindh government for laying of a gas pipeline.

Talking to reporters outside, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi said that the federation was trying to improve the situation in Karachi but it was the PPP government which was creating hurdles.

“The cause of the power crisis in the city is due to gas shortage. But unfortunately the Sindh government has not given permission for laying a pipeline and this has created the gas crisis in the city,” he said.

“A meeting of federal and provincial ministers was held recently but no specific reason or reply was received from Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Sheikh on this important issue. We demand that the Sindh government immediately give the SSGC the right of way,” he said.

PTI Karachi president and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman, MNAs Fahim Khan, Akram Cheema, MPAs Jamal Siddiqui, Arsalan Taj, Raja Azhar, Dr Sanjay Gangwani, Ali Aziz, Shahnawaz Jadoon, Umar Amri, Bilal Ghaffar, Karim Bakhsh Gabol, Dr Imran Shah, Shehzad Qureshi, Rabistan Khan and Dr Seema Zia were also present.

MPA Zaman said that the party lawmakers came to request the Sindh chief minister to give the SSGC the right of way. The CM, he claimed, had been reminded 12 times on this issue by the SSGC management.

“But it’s unfortunate that only to score political points, the Sindh government is giving a different statement on a daily basis. We want to tell the PPP leadership that politics has its own place and ground, but people should not be made to suffer,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020