Another Fit Case for Suo Moto Action by Superior Courts of Pakistan

Posted by Syed Nayyar Uddin on July 14, 2011 in Corruption, Pakistan |

Straight Talk – The Power Crisis & The 780 million rip-offs. (The Nation, Sunday, 10th July, 2011) 

The threat of a looming power crisis that the country would be facing in the coming years was raised way back in 1994, when a group of concerned citizens had filed a Public Interest Litigation against KESC in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

 

Since then, Helpline Trust and other citizens have repeatedly raised this issue at various platforms. Yet despite the ringing of the alarm bells over the years, no government, civilian or military, has taken this looming crisis seriously.

 

Instead, the present government has excelled in promoting the culture of corruption in its various ministries. There are reports of mega corruption scandals almost every day and yet our leaders have the audacity to insist that they must be allowed to complete their five-year term in office, because the citizens had voted for the PPP in the last elections.

 

However, the voters had not given the government a carte-blanche authority to loot and plunder the country. They had voted for the PPP, with the hope that this time it would fulfill its promise of providing Roti – Kapra – Makaan to the citizens and establish good governance, accountability and enforcement of the Rule of Law. But, as in the past, it has failed to honor any of these promises.

 

However, instead of introducing good governance and investing in power generation units and improving the output and efficiency of the existing units, the government has been indulging in the worst kind of corruption and rip-offs in the power sector.

 

First we had the questionable KESC Privatization deal, which is still shrouded in secrecy, followed by the scandals of the massive rip-offs in the importation of IPP plants and the agreements connected with these shady deals.  (http://www.helplinetrust.org/EDC%201/youtube%20ht/kesc.htm).

 

This was then followed by the news of the recent rip-off in the importation of the Turkish Karkey power rental ship, which, according to reports, is standing idle off the shores of Karachi for the last few months and is costing this electricity starved City of Lights a cool  $9 million a month.

 

The deal to pay capacity charges of approximately Rs.780 million was struck between the clueless former minister of water and power, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who had boldly announced that there would be no load shedding in Pakistan after December 2009 and Raja Babar Ali Zulqarnain, son of AJK President Raja Zulqarnain Khan, the country representative for the company Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim AS in Pakistan.

 

The power rental ship is standing idle because the government is not making any efforts to ensure fuel supply to make the unit fully operational. Instead, it is paying Rs26.37 per unit as capacity charges, while Rs. l5.48 per unit is being paid under the head of fuel cost.

 

This multi-million dollar loss to the national economy came to the surface during the hearing of the petition of eight power distribution companies. During the hearings, it was revealed that Karkey is producing only 30 megawatts of power, against an agreement to add 231 MWs to the system.

 

Allegations of massive corruption and mismanagement in the power sector have been circulating for a very long time, but who are the real Hidden Hands that are behind this recent rip-off is not clear but it is obvious that they must all be very pleased with themselves and smiling all the way to the bank. 

 

In India, the citizens have forced the government to form a Grand Alliance against Corruption and introduce a bill to tackle the problem. India’s Supreme Court has also ordered a special investigation into unde­clared money stashed in foreign bank accounts of the rich and the famous.

 

While in contrast, instead of assisting the Supreme Court of Pakistan in punishing the culprits involved in corruption, our democratically elected Awami government has tried everything in the book to sabotage trial proceedings.

 

It has frustrated the Court’s efforts to investigate cases of corruption and the Rs.5 billion NICL scandal, by trying to suspend ADG FIA, Zafar Qureshi, on the pretext of talking to media without departmental authorization.

 

However, the CJ has stepped in and ordered the government to reinstate the ADG or face its wrath. Such is the commitment of this morally corrupt government to eliminate the octopus of corruption and improve our system of governance.

 

According to media reports, all this was being done to accommodate the leaders of PML-Q, who have come forward to join a shaky coalition, to prevent the PPP government from immediate collapse.

 

General Musharraf, in his eight years of governance, had the opportunity to tackle the power crisis and could have taken the positive steps to set up power generation plants and revamp the dilapidated and outdated distribution.

 

But instead, this government had also ignored this problem and had taken took the easy way out, by privatizing the utility service, without examining the ground realities and had allowed allowing this city of lights to plunge into darkness.

 

And unfortunately, the present government has also failed to rectify the mess that the previous government had left and even failed to provide the basic facilities like electricity, gas, clean water and a decent health and education system to its citizens.

 

Our leaders have shamelessly humiliated and shamed this nation. Under this government, we do not have democracy, but a politics of bullets and fear, as it has failed to even protect the lives and property of the citizens, which is the primary duty of the government under the constitution.

 

Will the Grand Alliance between the two former rivals, PML-N and MQM, come up to the ‘Great Expectations’ of the suffering citizens? Will it force the government to end corruption, the increasing killings in Karachi and improve the system of governance?

 

Or is it just another attempt to push AZ and his Merry Men out of their Ivory Tower? Or will this GA end up as just another ‘Much ado about nothing’ charade, as in the past, only time will tell.

 

After 9/11, Pakistan had declared a war against terror. Perhaps it is time for the government to declare a war against corruption, target killings and the power crisis, which is crippling and killing our industries and making the lives of the citizens miserable and unbearable.

 

Until then, in the words of Gen. Musharraf, our former dictator, at the end of his resignation speech: ‘Pakistan Ka Khuda hafiz hai’ – ‘May Allah protect Pakistan’. 

 

Hamid Maker. (Email: trust@helplinetrust.org).

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