Nawaz leaves Karachi. No discussion on Rangers issues
KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Karachi on Monday, accompanied by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Water and Power and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Trade and Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir, but left without meeting the chief minister or the governor on the issue of Rangers’ powers.
Earlier, circles close to the PML-N appeared optimistic that Sharif will hold a meeting with Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad on the discord between the centre and Sindh over Rangers’ powers.
An official press release about the premier’s visit said: “PM Nawaz Sharif will visit Karachi on Monday (today). He will have three official engagements: visit Port Qasim Authority to review development plans of the authority; review Port Qasim’s power project and address an FPCCI function.”
The prime minister left for Port Qasim Authority (PQA) soon after CM Shah received him at Karachi airport as per the official protocol.
At PQA, Sharif reviewed development plans of the authority and progress of ongoing projects.
Chairman PQA Agha Jan Akhtar and Secretary Ports and Shipping Khalid Pervaiz briefed the premier about different ongoing projects executed by the authority.
In a light conversation with a Chinese engineer supervising the development of a 1, 320MW coal-based power project, the premier asked the official to ensure the project is completed by Dec 2017.
The prime minister had himself laid foundation of the project, to be completed at a cost of $1.5 billion, Radio Pakistan reported.
It is the first power project being set up under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, who was accompanying the PM, also joined the conversation, saying the Chinese government is fully supporting the project and will ensure the quality of the work is at par with the best in the world.
‘Savings of Rs100bn on three LNG power plants’
The PM briefly spoke at a Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) award ceremony, where he briefed attendees on ongoing and planned development and infrastructure projects throughout the country.
Addressing business people, foreign investors and partners, the PM lauded his government for successfully handling its biggest challenge: electricity. From January onward, he said, the tariff of electricity would be decreased by 3 per cent, he announced.
The premier said that by 2017-2018, 10,000 megawatts of electricity would be introduced to the national grid, and that by 2025, an additional 15, 000MW would be produced.
The PM said work has started on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-run power plants, and that the total expenditure on LNG power plants so far has been 40pc less than its budgeted cost. “That is a major difference. We have saved Rs100 billion on three power plants,” he stated.
Referring to Karachi’s security situation, the PM commented that the Rangers’ operation – as “difficult” as it is – was a testament to his government’s commitment to rooting out terrorism and extremism from Pakistan.
“Look at Pakistan three years before,” he said. “Look at Karachi seven years in the past, and then look at Pakistan and Karachi today. There is no comparison.”
PM Nawaz expressed confidence that foreign investors and exporters who had previously refused to come to Karachi and discuss business would at present arrive in droves due to his government’s efforts.
“In six to eight months, the ones who did not want to come will at the moment call you and ask you to invite them,” he said.