Shahbaz in cabinet’s energy committee

Jun 14, 2013

By: KHAWAR GHUMMAN | dawn.com

ISLAMABAD: The ‘talented brother’, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif, is the only provincial chief executive included in the newly constituted high-powered Cabinet Committee on Energy (CCE).

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The decision was made on Tuesday at yet another special meeting held to review the energy situation. The meeting, according to the media wing of the prime minister’s office, lasted three hours.

The government also decided to keep the former caretaker minister for water and power, Dr Musadiq Malik, as adviser in the ministry, a press release said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will himself head the CCE. In addition to the Punjab chief minister, federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Mohammad Asif and Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will be its members.

The CCE will meet fortnightly and take decisions on matters relating to the entire power chain, including generation and distribution.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervez Rashid, Adviser Musadiq Malik, representatives of the private sector, experts and senior officials also attended Tuesday’s meeting.

With the CCE in place, the prime minister will himself be in charge of the power sector.

During the election campaign the younger Sharif had aggressively criticised the PPP government for mismanaging the power sector and promised to address the issue of loadshedding on a war footing. On various occasions, he gave different deadlines to resolve the electricity crisis — ranging from six months to three years, but soon after taking over the government the elder brother dismissed the dates as mere rhetoric.

Some in the PML-N say Shahbaz Sharif had expressed his desire to become the federal minister for water and power but the party leadership decided to keep him in Punjab. “Despite his selection as Punjab chief minister, he had kept on insisting for a role in the federal ministry,” a senior PML-N leader told Dawn.

“Performance in the power sector is the sole criterion on the basis of which the PML-N government will be judged in coming months. Hence the Sharif brothers don’t want to take any risk on this front,” the party leader said.

He said Dr Malik had impressed the prime minister during recent meetings, so he had been asked to serve as an adviser.

When asked if the decisions to appoint the adviser and include the chief minister in the CCE could be interpreted as a result of lack of trust in Khawaja Asif, the minister in charge, the PML-N leader said: “It was the magnitude of the problem which forced the prime minister to constitute the committee.”