CCI, not federal cabinet, is constitutionally authorized to make decisions about ownership of gas reserves: Barrister Murtaza Wahab

KARACHI: The Sindh Law and Environment Adviser, Barrister Murtaza Wahab, has said that the Council of Common Interests (CCI), not the federal cabinet, is constitutionally authorized to make decisions about the ownership of gas reserves in the province so that people of Sindh should not face a shortfall of natural gas.

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, the Sindh law adviser said that the sub-article three of Article-172 of the Constitution of Pakistan had provision for joint ownership of the gas reserves by the federal government and the province concerned and the Centre could not be the sole owner of such natural resources. He said the Sindh government had no control over the Sui Southern Gas Company.

He said that Sindh was being supplied 900 to 1,050 MMCFD gas, which was even below 50 per cent natural gas produced in the province. “Nobody knows where else the rest of 1,400 MMCFD of gas is being supplied,” said Murtaza Wahab, who also acts as the spokesman for the Sindh government.

He said the Constitution had to be followed as the decision regarding the ownership of gas reserves had to be taken by the CCI. The decisions regarding gas issues are not supposed to be taken by the federal cabinet as the CCI was constitutionally empowered to decide such matters, he said. The CCI has to meet after every 90 days but its meetings are not held even after passage of nine months, he said. He said that Sindh should be supplied its due share of natural gas as the gas shortfall would increase unemployment and cause closure of industries in the province.

“I’m amazed that the prime minister has said that a gas crisis will emerge in the country in the coming winter. The governments are supposed to provide solution to such problems of the masses instead of merely annoying the public,” he said.

He said that a crisis-like situation had emerged every time the PM had taken cognizance of issues like wheat shortage, sugar, and medicine prices. He (the PM) should not take such notices as ultimately the situation goes in the benefit of profiteering mafias in the country.

The Sindh law adviser said that former president Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur had been indicted in money laundering case despite legal reservations. “This act shows that the system of accountability is based on political vendetta,” said Wahab. He said that the former president Asif Ali Zardari had appeared in the court despite his ill health, coronavirus pandemic, and advice of his (Zardari’s) physicians to the contrary.

He said that the former president in the past too had bravely fought against the false cases instituted against him and this time he would do the same. He would emerge successful from these baseless cases, claimed the law adviser. He said that a false perception had emerged in the country that the coronavirus epidemic had come to an end.

“But I want to make clear that coronavirus has come under control but it is yet to be eliminated,” said Wahab. “We need to be cautious and responsible as in the last two weeks, the coronavirus infection rate in Sindh has increased to 2.6 per cent,” said the law adviser.

He said the Sindh CM had duly written to the prime minister to inform him about the devastation caused in the province due to heavy monsoon rains but there was no response either from the PM or from the federal government. “This gives rise to the question that whether or not the calamity-hit districts of Sindh are part of Pakistan. The Sindh government has been doing its best to help out the affected people but there was no help at all from the federal government,” said Wahab.

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