Energy Minister Sardar Awais Leghari, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur are pictured during their meeting, on Monday.—APP
Energy Minister Sardar Awais Leghari, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur are pictured during their meeting, on Monday.—APP

• Gandapur addresses presser with federal ministers; claims to have found ‘way to cut loadshedding’
• Details of mechanism to prevent line losses, recover arrears to be announced today
• KP CM vows to work with federal govt, says his party has issues with ‘individuals, not institutions’

ISLAMABAD: After mo­n­ths of acrimony, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and the federal gov­ernment on Monday clai­med to have reached an agreement to end power loadshedding in the province, recover pending dues, and, address the issue of line losses.

The issues of prolonged power outages in KP and the province’s dues owed by the federal government had infuriated Chief Mini­s­ter Ali Amin Gandapur.

On May 15, he gave the Centre 15 days to cut the duration of loadshedding and vowed to “take over” offices of Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) — which comes under the federal government and supplies power to most of KP — and file cases against its officials if his demands weren’t met.

The discontent became so severe that PTI MPA Fazal Elahi on Sunday led protesters who entered Peshawar’s Rehman Baba Grid Station and forcibly activated feeders to restore electricity supply to their areas.

However, Mr Gandapur has been more amicable since Saturday as he held a series of meetings with federal ministers for energy and interior.

On Monday, the three addressed a press conference and announced that a formal agreement between the federal government and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be signed soon.

Mr Gandapur said he had “found a solution” to the province’s power issues and was willing to cooperate with the Centre.

He added that federal and provincial entities would cooperate to address the issue of loadshedding and power theft.

“We have come together to ensure that losses in the system are addressed and mechanisms put in place to prevent them,” he said.

“I am proud to say that we can produce and distribute electricity nationwide. But there are problems of load shedding, and those escalate into law and order issues.”

The CM said he held multiple meetings with Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi and Energy Minister Sardar Awais Leghari, and plans have been made to develop a mechanism to prevent losses to the exchequer and ensure that citizens pay their arrears.

“We as a province will do our part, as will our parliamentarians and local government representatives,” he added.

“This will be a community-based project,” said the KP CM and energy minister, adding that it will involve cooperation from National and provincial assembly members.

Mr Gandapur said that until the mechanism was fully developed, KP would get relief from the Centre.

He added that both sides gave presentations in the meetings, and once finalised, the initiative would benefit people by granting them relief. “The government, in turn, will manage to reduce its financial losses.”

He said that his administration was planning to introduce solar energy projects in KP to further benefit the public. “We will soon be loadshedding free.”

‘Joyous day’

The three officials gave no details about the proposed plan or how it works. Energy minister Leghari told the media that the announcement about the solutions would be made today (Tuesday) “once we have finalised the details”.

He, however, added that the model would be replicated in other provinces as well.

Mr Leghari said the agreement was a “joyous day” as “the federal government and PTI have recognised the damage done to this country and come together for a solution” despite partisanship and political agendas.

“We all came to the table to discuss this issue [of load shedding], and I am grateful to the interior minister for his role.”

“This is not as much a matter to end power theft as much as it is a way to end load shedding,” Mr Leghari said, adding that PTI, PML-N and other parties have come together to revive the economy.

Responding to a question, Interior Minister Naqvi acknowledged the electricity shortage in KP. “We have managed to solve that very intelligently,” he said adding this was something that needs to be appreciated.

Issues with individuals, not institutions

For most part of the press conference the three officials vowed to work together, but Mr Gandapur made it clear the cooperation was between state institutions and not with the PML-N government.

He clearly stated the distinction between individuals and institutions and said he was “seated next to the interior minister, not Mohsin Naqvi”.

“Though the PML-N stole our mandate, we have to work together for the good of the country”.

The KP CM said PTI founder Imran Khan “had no issue with any institution”.

“We may have problems with individuals, but never institutions.”

“There are political parties, and there are initiatives. We must not conflate the two,” the CM said.

The KP CM also attended the meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council on Saturday and called it a “very good meeting”.

While talking to the media after the meeting, he said the resources of the province should continue to benefit both its residents and the larger country.

However, he added that the KP government would “never compromise” on its share of resources, adding that the issue was raised in the SIFC meeting and “the commitment has been given that the province’s resources, rights and share of the people will be protected.”

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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