NA opposition walks out over blocking leaders’ entry to ATC

Our Correspondent
Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Parliamentarians from the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) staged a walkout from the National Assembly proceedings on Monday to protest the prevention of opposition leaders Omar Ayub Khan and others from appearing before the Anti-Terrorist Court in Sargodha.

At the outset of the proceedings, former speaker Asad Qaiser raised the issue on a point of order, saying that Punjab police had stopped the opposition leader in the National Assembly and other leaders from reaching the court in Sargodha. He announced that the SIC would submit a privilege motion against the illegal actions of the Punjab police.

The SIC members walked out of the National Assembly in protest and returned after 20 minutes.

Later, on a point of order, opposition leader Omar Ayub said that the Punjab police had obstructed their way to the Anti-Terrorist Court, preventing them from appearing before it. He said that their bails were cancelled for not appearing in court, despite police interference. They managed to reach the court’s main gate but were told a security operation was being conducted.

Omar Ayub alleged that personnel from an intelligence agency had taken the judge hostage. He argued that the privileges of the National Assembly members and the lower house of parliament, a state institution, had been breached. He announced plans to table a privilege motion in the house. Additionally, he claimed that the PTI founder was kept in a small cell without the facilities promised by the government and that PTI leaders and workers were being implicated in fake cases.

Meanwhile, parliamentarians from both sides of the house criticised the long hours of load-shedding. Noor Alam Khan of the JUIF complained about extended electricity load-shedding in Peshawar district, questioning why capacity charges were being levied on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa consumers supplied by hydroelectric projects.

Shagufta Jumani of the PPP highlighted that many parts of interior Sindh faced up to 20-22 hours of load-shedding during the severe hot season. Khurshid Junejo, also of the PPP, pointed out that some parts of Sindh had not received electricity for the last seven to eight months, affecting hospitals and other areas in his constituency.

PTI chief whip Aamir Dogar called for a specific discussion time on load-shedding, emphasising its severity amid the heat wave.

Asiya Ishaque Siddiqui warned that the electricity issue could lead to riots in Karachi, stressing the need for action against K-Electric’s non-compliance with Nepra decisions. Anwar Taj of the PTI questioned the Rs2200 billion annual payments to 60 IPPs and who signed the agreements with them. He mentioned 20-22 hours of load-shedding in his constituency’s feeders. Malik Asad reported unscheduled load-shedding in Jamshoro district, citing a power breakdown for the last four days due to rain. He called for a detailed discussion on payments to IPPs, load-shedding, electricity theft, and inefficient transmission lines.

Minister for Power Awais Khan Leghari said that the entire electricity transmission system had deteriorated due to political and administrative inefficiencies, with widespread electricity theft and unauthorised transformers exacerbating the issue. He noted that in his constituency, thefts had been controlled, reducing line losses to zero and ensuring 24-hour electricity supply. Leghari emphasised that load-shedding could only be controlled if thefts were eliminated in the respective feeder areas.

Abdul Qadir Patel offered to register 1,500 FIRs for electricity thefts in Karachi to end load-shedding there.