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PESHAWAR, May 27: NWFP Finance Minister Sirajul Haq has held senior military officials responsible for present state of affairs in Wapda, who, according to him, had created a mess after taking over the authority.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Pakistan Wapda Employees Pegham Union at the Peshawar Press Club on Saturday, Mr Haq said the provincial government was opposed to privatisation of Wapda, because it would cause loss to the country.

He said after selling out PTCL, banks and Pakistan Steel Mills, the rulers were out to ‘auction Wapda at throw away price’.

Saying the country ‘is groaning under dictatorship and a dictator can not deliver, he added: “The generals can do everything except fighting a war.”

Mr Haq said: “The federal government spends millions of rupees on the security of one man (President Gen Pervez Musharraf), which can be utilised for the welfare of the workers”.

He said the exploitative system could not be changed through resolutions and protest meetings, instead, it required collective will and people’s power to get rid of it.

Deploring price hike, he said the federal government should curtail non-development expenditures if it was serious in investing in social sector.

Speaking on the occasion, National Labour Federation president Merajuddin Khan proposed that a joint parliamentary commission should be constituted to assess merits and demerits of privatisation.

He said the Pakistan Steel Mills was a profit-earning unit with an annual capacity to earn Rs8 billion, but the government had auctioned the mill with precious 19,000 acres of land against Rs22 billion.

Saying privatisation created unemployment, he added the new management of the Habib Bank had sacked 2,300 employees and new PTCL mangers were planning to sack 42,000 workers in the name of right-sizing.

He said during privatisation of the PTCL, army troops had taken over the telephone exchanges and labour leaders were forced to stay away from them.

He urged the government to scrap the Removal from Services Ordinance 2000, saying it had deprived the sacked workers of their right to seek remedy from courts.

He said the ordinance was a unsheathed sword hanging over the heads of industrial and commercial workers.

He also called on the government to repeal ‘certain clauses’ of the Industrial Relations Ordinance 2002.

MNA Sabir Hussain Awan said the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal would table a private bill in the parliament to dismantle the anti-labour laws enacted after 1999.