PPP hits back at PML-N for taking ‘undue credit’ about Thar coal project

Nawaz credits PML-N for Thar coal, PPP’s Shah slams PML-N supremo for undue credit

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif (right) and PPP leader Murad Ali Shah. — PPI/AFP/File
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif (right) and PPP leader Murad Ali Shah. — PPI/AFP/File
  • Nawaz claims PML-N began works on Thar coal.
  • Ex-CM Shah slams him for taking undue credit.
  • Heat turning up as general elections are nearing.

As the general election countdown begins, the country’s top political parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — have started trading barbs on the Thar coal project, which provides energy to the main grid.

In an address to his party leaders in Muree, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif said during his tenures as the prime minister, he had worked on resolving the power crises — not only in Punjab, but in other provinces as well.

Nawaz said his government had also worked on a coal project in Sindh. “I kept hearing for around 50 years that there’s coal in Sindh and that it would prove extremely beneficial in Pakistan’s development. However, no one had used it for the country’s development.”

“I kept hearing for 50 years that there are coal reserves in Sindh, but if we can’t use them, then what’s the use?” he asked.

The three-time prime minister also said that his government had worked “for the first time on coal mines”. Nawaz said his government extracted coal and also established a coal-powered electric plant.

“These coals are locally extracted. They aren’t imported. So someone should have started the works on it [before we did],” Nawaz added.

In response, PPP leader Murad Ali Shah — who has served as Sindh’s chief minister twice — slammed Nawaz and said whatever Nawaz has said about the Thar coal project was contrary to the facts.

“Nawaz Sharif’s statements about the Thar coal project are unfounded. Coal was discovered in Thar in 1991. It’s just been 30-32 years since the discovery, however, Nawaz has apparently been hearing about it for the last 50 years,” Shah told Geo News.

Shah said the Sindh Control Authority had signed an agreement in 1995 to produce 10,560 megawatts of electricity. In the same year, he said, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto had inaugurated the Thar coal project.

In 2018, the former chief minister told a private television channel, the PPP-led Sindh government had established the Thar Coal Energy Board. He said from 2008-2013 — when the PPP was in power in Sindh and the centre — the federal government supported the project.

“However, when Nawaz Sharif’s government came into power, the works on the project completely stopped. He reminded Nawaz that from 1997 to 2008, no development work was done on the project.

Shah claimed that foreign investors pulled from the project due to the PML-N government. Then, he said, the Sindh government formed its own company to run the project.

“Due to the Sindh government’s efforts and China’s pressure, the PML-N government began talks with us and gave guarantees in 2015-16,” he said, noting that credit should given where it’s due and urged Nawaz not to take undue credit. 

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