Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali on Wednesday lashed out at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, saying its ministers and members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were involved in power theft.
The minister’s statement drew flak from the KP government whose ministers criticised the federal government for adding to the province’s energy woes.
KP MINISTERS INVOLVED:
Earlier addressing a press conference, Abid Sher Ali accused the KP ministers and members of the PTI belonging to the provincial assembly that instead of extending help in arresting the power thieves, they were patronizing electricity theft by staging sit-ins.
“It is easy to stage sit-ins and difficult to show performance,” he said.
Abid Sher Ali said KP MPAs including Fazal Elahi, Shah Farman, Ahmad Zari and others have failed to ensure that the people in their constituencies pay their dues to PESCO. He said the PESCO has outstanding dues of Rs 1.5 billion from the constituency of Shah Farman.
Around 90 percent of the users in their constituencies are defaulters, he claimed. He further said the PESCO employees are tortured when they visit areas to make recoveries.
“We will cut the hands of such people if the PESCO staff is manhandled again,” the minister warned.
The minister also said that certain areas bordering Peshawar have become “no-go” locations for PESCO employees who cannot work there because of security threats.
He asked PTI chief Imran Khan to pay attention to the provincial government, help in stopping power theft and recovery of dues instead of staging ‘dharnas’.
He said he had never singled out KP residents for power theft, adding that the situation was not different in other parts of the country. “Unfortunately, power theft is at its peak in KP,” he added.
“Line losses in KP have touched 90 per cent and theft is particularly high in the areas of ministers and assembly members of PTI,” he said, adding that when power supply was cut off in Bannu due to power theft, people took up arms against the staff. He cautioned that if a law and order problem arose during action against power thieves, it would be responsibility of the chief minister and provincial government because they have to stop the menace and recover the dues.
He said Imran Khan had himself demanded control over PESCO and when the federal government expressed its readiness, the PTI leader backed out and his provincial government started making excuses.
UPROAR IN KP ASSEMBLY:
Abid Sher Ali’s comments in the press conference stirred a firestorm in the KP Assembly.
Furious PTI lawmakers took exception to the remarks and criticised the minister of state for accusing them and the people of KP of stealing electricity.
“The federal government changed chiefs of all power distribution companies except PESCO despite our repeated requests. It is now pinning its failure on the PTI government by accusing our people of theft and causing line losses,” said Shah Farman, the provincial minister for information, on the floor of the House.
“Abid Sher Ali is a stupid man and if the federal government tries to disrupt power supply to Bannu again, we will cut Punjab’s electricity,” he said adding that the PESCO chief was the actual issue in the province.
Farman’s charged remarks led to a verbal brawl between the PTI and PML-N lawmakers after which the latter walked out of the session in protest.