Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda on Wednesday landed into trouble when he reacted rudely to a journalist’s question regarding government’s decision of awarding the Rs300 billion Mohmand Dam project on a “single financial bid” of a consortium comprising three firms.
He was a holding a press conference in the federal capital when a journalist asked him why the government had awarded the project to a consortium comprising Descon, China Gezhouba and Voith Hydro, while a consortium consisting of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), Andritz Hydro and Power China was technically disqualified and its financial bid was not considered. It is worth noting here that Descon is owned by Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Industry Razzaq Daud. The journalist questioned the legitimacy of the government’s decision as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had criticised an LNG deal during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government on the basis that it was awarded on a single-bid basis.
“Your party had strongly criticised the LNG deal because it was done on a single-bid basis, and now your government has awarded the contract of Mohmand Dam on a single-bid basis. How can you say it is legitimate?” he questioned.
Faisal Vawda’s response took the journalists by surprise. “How can I be responsible for [those] contracts’ bidding that took place when this government was not in place? Secondly, if you find controversy or want to concoct one, then this is open. You can investigate this as you like it,” he said. “Because you are my elder I am answering this question. If this was someone else, I would not have answered and also set aside the mic,” he added.
Objecting to Vawda’s choice of words, the journalists walked out of the press conference. Vawda then apologised, saying, “Please hear my request, I apologise to you over this. Journalists are my brothers and friends.” But his attempts to placate the journalist community were futile as all journalists walked out in protest.
Earlier, during the press conference, Vawda had also refused to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly (NA) on short notice, saying, “I am not the servant of anyone’s father.”
“There is a procedure that has to be followed if one is called for their viewpoint or suggestion and they are informed at least 15 to 20 days in advance but if someone, especially an accused who comes from jail, calls me on a one-day notice, I will not comply,” he added.
He further said that while PAC is free to do its job and the ministries are bound to inform the apex committee, if he receives a letter on Monday morning in which he has been asked to appear on Tuesday, he would not tolerate it and would not appear before the committee.
This is not the first time Vawda’s raging temper has landed him into the news. Last year, he had been involved in a fiery exchange of words with former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over allegations of water theft. He had alleged that “PML-N had stolen from all organisations”. He justified his usage of “non-parliamentary” language by saying that if there was theft, he would use such language and his actions too would be “non-parliamentary”. The former premier had objected to his choice of words and his tone.