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Shahid Khaqan challenged ministers for live debate

24 October, 2018

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Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Tuesday challenged the government ministers to have a live debate with him on television over the issue of alleged corruption in LNG deals and power projects set up during the PML-N government’s tenure, a private TV channel reported. Speaking at a news conference along with PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb and Senator Musaddiq Malik here, Abbasi refuted the allegations of Federal Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry that the PML-N government had set up costly projects due to which the government was compelled to increase the power tariff. “I own each and every decision taken by me as prime minister and am ready for a live debate on TV at just one hour’s notice. If I fail to prove my claims, I’m prepared to go to jail. Otherwise (petroleum minister) Ghulam Sarwar Khan and (information minister) Fawad Chaudhry will have to go to jail,” he said.

The former prime minister claimed that Pakistan had set up the cheapest LNG terminals in the world. He said that a complete record of the LNG agreement with Qatar was available and it had already been discussed in the parliament. He said had there been no LNG in the country, the energy crisis would not have been resolved. He said the country was making huge savings through the production of electricity from LNG instead of furnace oil. Abbasi also ridiculed the information minister’s claim that Pakistan was producing costly electricity due to the expensive power projects set up by the previous government.

He said due to these projects, Pakistan would continue to get the cheapest electricity in the world for the next 15 years. He said a number of power projects, including the Thar coal power project, were in progress which would be completed in the next two to three years. He said the Bhasha Dam project was not facing any financial hurdles. Rather, according to him, the main issue was that of political commitment.

Abbasi criticised the PTI government for making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) ‘controversial’. He denied the charges that China was providing loans on high interest rates, and said the average cost of Chinese loans was 2.4 per cent and these loans were payable in 20 to 25 years.

The PML-N leader proclaimed that if Pakistan’s problems could be resolved by sending him and his cabinet members to jail, then they were ready for it. He said there was in fact a need to send the ‘incompetent ministers’ of the present government to jail, who, he said, were not armed with even the basic knowledge of the economic issues the country is faced with despite attending three Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meetings.

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