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Circular debt stands at Rs328bn, Senate told

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad informed the Senate on Thursday that circular debt of power sector currently stood at Rs328 billion.

In response to a calling-attention notice, the minister acknowledged that the matter was a serious one but said the government had taken a number of steps to bring it under control.

He said that line losses and power theft posed big problems to the government. There were many areas in the country where bills were not paid promptly.

Mr Ahmad said many of the distribution companies had managed to reduce their line losses. The other companies were being asked to improve their efficiency.
Opposition, govt members clash over efforts to curb terrorism

Plans were being chalked out to improve efficiency of the grids because obsolete cables, equipment and machines would not be able to properly handle additional electricity likely to be added to the system soon, the minister said. He said that once circular debt used to increase at a rate of Rs100bn per year but this was no longer the case now.

Meanwhile, during a debate on an adjournment motion about the recent militant attack on a shrine in Balochistan’s Khuzdar district, the opposition members grilled the government over what they termed its “failure to combat terrorism and links with militant groups”.

They pointed out that a delegation of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council that met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan recently comprised leaders of some outlawed Islamist organisations. By meeting them, the minister had in effect “patronised terrorists”.

The opposition members also questioned the claims that the attack was part of conspiracies being hatched against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and said had this been the case those behind the assault would have chosen Punjab or Sindh as their target.

Why the national security committee of parliament was not being re-constituted and why the four-nation agreement to combat terrorism in the region was not being activated, they asked.

The opposition members, however, kept quiet when an outspoken PML-N leader, Mushahidullah Khan, asked them as to who had formed “the first terrorist organisation of the country, Al-Zulfikar”.

“What have you done to control law and order during your five years in power and what are the provincial governments doing now,” he asked.

Mr Khan claimed that “no action had been taken” on the security alerts issued by the officials concerned after getting information about possible attacks from intelligence officers.

He also referred to the remarks of the Supreme Court about militant wings in some political parties and the judges’ observation that the wings were involved in targeted killings and extortion. “You should see what the courts are saying about you even today.”

He said a proper comparative analysis would show that the situation today was far better than it was under the previous government.

Shrine attack

Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rehman told the house that a boy, about 15 years old and wearing a veil, entered the shrine of Shah Noorani on Nov 12 when about 5,000 people were on its premises.

He first fired 9mm bullets and then blew himself up. Correcting the casualty figure, he said the suicide attack claimed the lives of 36 people. Of them 34 were from Sindh and two from Balochistan.

The minister said that even though it was a “private shrine” ten personnel of the Balochistan Levies had been deployed there to provide security to the visitors. He admitted that only one of them was present at the shrine when the attack took place.

Mr Rehman said the attack took place only a day before an important event at the Gwadar port, giving credence to the assumption that it had something to do with CPEC.

He, however, said there had been a “phenomenal decline” in the incidence of terrorism in the country. He also tried to dispel the impression that terrorists were moving about freely and that they would go off scot-free after committing atrocities.

The house unanimously amended its rules and now its business advisory committee would also act as its ethics committee.

The amendment to the Senate Rules was moved jointly by Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq and Leader of the Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan.

Another amendment was also approved by the house under which a new section (226-A) was inserted in the rules to provide for a code of conduct of members, aimed at assisting them in discharging their duties and obligations.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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