PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said the entire Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was being “targeted” for serving the nation and working like a “supernatural power” during its tenure that helped pull the country out of crisis.
“We saved Rs250 billion in our power projects, completed metro bus project on time, provided free medicines to people, launched health cards across Pakistan … these are the public service initiatives for which we are being targeted,” he told a press conference in Lahore.
Flanked by former finance minister Miftah Ismail, Sharif alleged the incumbent PTI government had once again plunged Pakistan into the loadshedding crisis — a menace that he claimed former premier Nawaz Sharif had rid the country of.
“Is this the Naya Pakistan they had been pressing to introduce?” he asked, adding: “I must tell you ridding the country of loadshedding between 2013 and 2018 was no less than a miracle and it came about because of our hard work and commitment.”
He said loadshedding across different parts of the country was taking place mainly due to the “misdeeds” of the government.
Sharif recalled that the PML-N government had installed four power plants in Bhikki, Haveli Bahadur Shah, Baluki and Trimmu. “No corruption was proved in our power plants and these plants are the cheapest in the world,” he claimed.
He explained that the fourth power plant in Trimmu with a capacity to generate 1,263 megawatts had been due to become operational in December 2019, but it could not begin operations till date. “The same plant has incurred losses of Rs35 billion ... what more proof do we need of the current government's incompetence? he said.
He claimed these power plants had helped save Rs250 billion of the nation. “Is this the service whose price we are paying today?” he asked.
The PML-N leader said the PTI government had pledged to build 350 small dams but not a single dam was built.
He added: “We had initiated the work on laying power transmission line from Matiari to Lahore, but no further progress was seen on the project when the PTI government took charge.”
He highlighted that the Neelum-Jhelum power project was completed by the PML-N government after a 20-year delay at a cost of $5 billion, while its initial cost was $800 million.
“Similarly, we had built two LNG terminals, but the PTI government didn't build any,” he added.
Sharif claimed that gas prices were at “rock bottom” when the coronavirus pandemic began, but the government didn’t enter into contracts with companies which could have been beneficial. On the contrary, he alleged, the government signed the costliest agreements for gas.
He further said the coal power plants installed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by the PML-N were the cheapest among thermal projects. “The power project of Sahiwal was ready in 22 months and a similar project in China was completed in around 32 months,” he added.
He stressed that this was a clear indication that the PML-N government had worked loyally to steer the country out of its power crisis.
"Pushing the PML-N to the wall is not a service to the nation, we will not progress this way," he said, addressing the government.
Sharif said the PTI had claimed to end corruption in three months and unveiled a checklist with several promises, but it didn’t fulfil any of its pledges.
Shortly after Sharif's press conference, government ministers addressed a presser of their own in Islamabad to respond to the PML-N president's allegations.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said Sharif had talked about gas and electricity when in fact he should have shed light on the cases against him. He alleged that the PML-N leader averted answering questions asked of him, saying Sharif should reveal the details of the allegations against him before the Federal Investigation Agency and the media.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar also called upon Sharif to answer the allegations against him.
Poking fun at the PML-N president, Akbar said Sharif had been "unwell" ever since he was prevented from going to London and could be found saying "different things on different days". Addressing the latter's claims of harassment by the FIA, Akbar questioned why it took so long for him to express his concerns when he had been summoned on June 22.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar explained that any problems of loadshedding were due to issues with the transmission system instead of electricity production. He also said that 80 per cent to 90pc of the remaining bottlenecks in the transmission system would be resolved by next summer.
Azhar also hit back against the PML-N for the power agreements it signed during its tenure and criticised its measures to rely upon imported fuels for electricity production instead of utilising domestic resources.