Friday October 15, 2021

Unanimous resolution: KP Assembly demands resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia

September 21, 2021
Unanimous resolution: KP Assembly demands resumption of direct flights to Saudi Arabia

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Monday asked the federal government through a unanimous resolution to convince Saudi Arabia to resume direct flights from Pakistan so that the Pakistanis working in the kingdom could go back to work.

The resolution, moved by the parliamentary party leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Ikhtiar Wali, stated that some 300,000 Pakistanis, who had come home on leave, were stranded due to the suspension of the direct flights between the two countries.

“Many Pakistanis are using different routes through various countries to return to Saudi Arabia. They have to pay huge money to travel agents and airlines for rejoining their work and businesses in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” Ikhtiar Wali said in his resolution

He urged the federal government to utilise diplomatic channels and other means to help resume direct flights between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government placed travel restrictions and stopped direct flights from Pakistan due to the coronavirus.

As a result, most of the Pakistanis, who had come home on leave, were stranded due to the restrictions on travel. The PML-Nawaz MPA said that the majority of the Pakistani workers, fearing the expiry of their visas or losing jobs, paid extra money to go back to Saudi Arabia via different routes and countries including Kirghizstan, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan where they faced a host of problems.

He said almost all the Pakistani workers were now vaccinated against Covid-19 and the ratio of coronavirus cases was on the decrease in the country, therefore, the Saudi government should lift the travel restrictions and resume direct flights from Pakistan The resolution was passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, the combined opposition assured the treasury of its support to fight the case of revenue-generating projects from its own resources including hydropower generation projects in the province. In their joint call attention notice, lawmakers from Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) showed concern over the National Electricity Policy and dropping of hydropower projects from Indicative Generation Capacity Expansion Plan (IGCEP-2021-30).

They said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had great potential for hydropower generations and if these projects were dropped under the new policy the province would face a slump in revenue. ANP’s Salahuddin said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government must take up this issue with the federal government as hydro-power generation was the main source of revenue.

“The PTI government must explain its position that what steps it had taken to plead its case about its own natural resources and revenue-generating from these resources,” he said, adding the chief minister must resist the dropping of hydropower projects in the IGCEP at the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Ahmad Kundi of PPP, while speaking on the joint call attention notice, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the potential to produce about 9000-megawatt electricity from hydropower projects which he said was the cheapest and one-time investment for producing electricity. “The PTI is in power at the centre and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, therefore, it must safeguard the interests of the province,” he said and added that power generation through furnace oil and gas was more expensive than hydropower generation.

Inayatullah Khan of JI said the people of the province would not forgive the rulers if they remained silent over this issue. “We are ready to cooperate with the ruling PTI in its efforts to secure the arrears of the net hydel profit and safeguard rights for the people of the province,” he said and added that the provincial government must explain its position about the National Electricity Policy.

Responding to the joint call attention notice, provincial Minister for Finance Taimur Salim Jhagra said that he and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had raised the issue with the federal government at the CCI’s meeting and other forums. He said the IGCEP had revised and changed its initial draft due to the reservations of the provincial government.

The minister thanked the opposition benches for their support and allowed the House to refer the issue to Standing Committee on Energy for thorough debate and discussion. Earlier, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani once again snubbed the officials of the Health Department for not submitting answers to the questions. All the questions related to the provincial Health Department were referred to the standing committee.