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Centre, KP break the ice on power, arrears issues

Israr Khan & News Desk & Shakeel Anjum
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

ISLAMABAD: The months-long bickering between the federal and KP governments over the power arrears thawed on Monday when both agreed to cooperate to eliminate load shedding, recover outstanding dues and reduce line losses in order to provide relief to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Federal Minister for Power Awais Khan Leghari and KP CM Ali Amin Khan Gandapur announced the decision in a joint press conference here. Accompanied by Minister for Energy Sardar Awais Khan Leghari and Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi, KP Chief Minister Gandapur said a formal agreement between the federal and KP government would be signed soon.

He noted that the ongoing discussions with the federal government on load shedding in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been productive, leading to collaborative efforts to resolve the issue. He emphasised that the PTI was not opposed to institutions and had no differences with the KP governor.

He highlighted that the KP was generating electricity for the entire country but it was facing increased load shedding. He assured that efforts would be made to address the power arrears and a community-based campaign would be launched soon to minimise line losses.

He clarified that his discussions were exclusively with the country’s interior minister and energy minister. The KP chief minister clarified that his discussions were exclusively with the country’s interior and energy ministers, addressing concerns related to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s law and order and economic conditions.

Gandapur expressed gratitude to the federal government for addressing their complaints and pledged to collaborate with the energy ministry to lower power outages and thefts. He also announced immediate relief for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until the new strategy begins to show results.

Additionally, the provincial government plans to implement solarization in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to control electricity losses. On Saturday, Gandapur met Army Chief General Asim Munir at the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) meeting in Islamabad, where he reiterated his commitment to ensuring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa receives its share of resources and providing relief to its people. He requested prompt release of federal funds to the province.

The SIFC session included top officials such as Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, and the chief ministers of all four provinces.

Gandapur attended the meeting following a last-minute invitation. He emphasized the goal of making Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a load-shedding-free province. Speaking on the occasion, Leghari called the agreement a “good day for Pakistan and victory for the political forces.”

He thanked Gandapur for acknowledging the shared issues and noted that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and other coalition partners took a significant step towards “revitalizing Pakistan’s economy.”

The agreement includes a community-based effort to inform people about how power theft causes load shedding and how stopping it will reduce outages. The model being developed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to address losses, electricity theft, and arrears recovery will be replicated in other provinces, Leghari added.

Talking to journalists, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said the meeting concluded with a “breakthrough”. He, however, did not give details about the breakthrough and said the session was held in a pleasant atmosphere.

Matters related to public relief were discussed in the meeting, he added. Ahead of the crucial huddle, Naqvi welcomed CM Gandapur upon his arrival at the Foreign Ministry. During his interaction with the media, the chief minister said, “Our cases are in the courts and we hope that we will get relief from the courts. I am sitting with them [federal ministers] to solve the problems of the people of his province. In political matters, different things should not be mixed.”