1.The current government has now been in power for over four months. How do you see Pakistan evolving under the PTI government?
To start with, I think 4 months is too less a time for any government to bring about a considerable change however, a government must be able to outline its priorities, define its goals and set its course in this time frame which is what the PTI government has focused on. I would like to highlight just a few the facts :-
a. The government is aiming at minimal reliance on International Monetary Fund (IMF) as of now and discontinuation of the same in times to come. we are currently paying off the debt that was passed on to us by the previous regime. Pakistan has not been blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) owing to the steps taken by this government which is again a great achievement. The previous governments used to go to the IMF for bailouts, we are the only party in power which instead of going to the IMF, requested funds from friendly countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia and now we may go towards IMF if needs be but in doing so, the restrictions and conditions will be far better compared to what the IMF asked us initially.
b. PTI Government has zero tolerance policy on corruption. The institutes created to maintain check and balance were heavily influenced by the previous governments. To augment the PM’s vision; our Govt. has focused on giving full independence to institutions such as National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other investigation organizations in order to have a fair and clean system of accountability. As an initial step, The PTI Govt, with the help of these institutes has been able to implement the writ of the government especially in the case of land grabbers mafia wherby trillions of rupees of land encroached by politicians and their accomplices has been recovered.
c. Furthermore, the government is focusing on increasing the exports and stock rates have started rising up again. The electricity prices have increased but it was necessary in order to get rid of the circular debt, we are taking difficult measures but we are doing this for the future of Pakistan.
Let me give you a brief run-down of what the government has achieved in the past 5 months or so :-
a. Imports have gone down and industrialization is on the rise. Two new automobile companies will start manufacturing their vehicles in Pakistan very soon. Exxon Mobil is already here and British Airways is coming back to the country. German and Chinese carriers also looking at Pakistan. Education for all is the government’s focus. Towards this end, education budget has also been increased.
b. Protocols have been withdrawn; No perks and privileges are given to the minister’s or even thePrime Minister. The ex-Prime Minister used to have 540 employees working for him, the current PM is running the office with only 27 people. Construction of Dams was pending form last 53 years. We have put Mohmand Dam Project back on track.
2. The Ministries goal is to develop the country’s water and hydropower resources to meet current and future challenges of water shortage and provision of affordable and environmental friendly renewable energy. Can you please give us an overview of Pakistan’s water and hydropower resources and expectations for the comings years?
As far as the Water resources of Pakistan are concerned; We are all set to construct a number of major and minor Dams / water reservoirs so as to enhance the water storage capacity of the country. At present Water storage capacity of Pakistan is 13.6 MAF approx. which will be enhanced to 23 MAF approx. after the completion of two major dams with in next 5 – 7 years. At Present, Hydropower is contributing one third of the total energy demand. As per our Vision 2030 we aim to achieve 40% – 42% and by 2050, Hydropower will represent around 50% of the total energy mix. We are also moving forward with the construction of dams and cutting corruption by not allowing any politicians or contractors backed by politicians to influence any decisions. The bidding processes have been made fair and transparent; bidders are independent and there is no interference from the government.
3. During our interview, the Minister of Climate Change, Hon. Ms Zartaj Gul, mentioned the challenges of water scarcity. President Dr. Arif Alvi also mentioned this major issue in a briefing by Hissar Foundation on Water issues at Aiwan-e-Sadr. What can be done in order to secure a continuing flow of water to the Pakistanis population and limit the looming water crisis?
The only solution to the problem is to enhance the water storage capacity of the country which in turn can only be achieved by constructing dams / water reservoirs. When the State of Pakistan came into being in 1947, 5200 m3 was available per person / year. With the increase in population, the need increased however nothing much was done to address the growing need vis-à-vis population. Due to the lack of will and ill planning of the previous governments this availability has now gone down to 833 m 3 . It will go down even further to 730 m 3 by 2030 if no concrete steps are taken immediately.
The water storage capacity of Pakistan as of now is 13.6 Million Acre Feet (MAF). It used to be 15 MAF when Tarbela Dam was completed but with the passage of time, it has been reduced. To address the looming water crisis; this Government is poised to take immediate steps. At the moment we are all set to undertake three Mega projects, Mohmand Dam, Diamer Bhasha Dam and the Dasu Hydro Power Project apart from many other small water storage and hydropower generation initiatives. Mohmand and Diamer Bhasha dam are the two key projects which are going to greatly enhance the capacity of Pakistan to store water during Moonsoon season. The same will thus be available during the rest of the year.
4. The Mohmand Damn construction is underway and an allocation of Rs7,316.035 million has been made during the current fiscal year for the construction of small and medium dams in Balochistan. What other major construction projects in water sector are currently happening?
The mega projects we are currently working on are the Mohmand Dam, Diamer Bhasha Dam and while Dasu Hydropower Project is basically a run of the mill project which will generate 2160 MW of electricity on completion . We have also taken up construction / completion of several small and medium sized dams within the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan such as the NaiGaj Dam and Darawat Dam.
These projects were half completed and were held in abeyance since long by the previous governments. This Govt has shown its resolve to complete all such half complete projects at priority.
5. The total Hydropower resource in Pakistan is estimated at about 50,000 MW. Most of the resources are located in the North of the country, which offers sites for large scale (100 MW to 7,000 MW) power projects. What current projects are you working on?
We are constructing Dasu HPP (2160 MW), Mohmand (800 MW) DBDP (4500 MW). Alongside dams we are also looking into power generation through solar energy and we have also been discussing setting up artificial drains and deceleration plants.
6. One of the major aims of this current government is to boost FDI. What is being done in order to attract foreign investors into the hydropower sector in Pakistan? How about water resources, would that be something feasible?
It is a very good time to come into Pakistan as rewards in the hydropower sector are consequent. The government is trying to make processes easier for foreign investors to come into the country. We are really looking at doing public-private partnerships in this sector.
7. WAPDA is government-owned public utility maintaining power and water in Pakistan. What does the future hold for WAPDA?
WAPDA used to be a big organization, which was studied and discussed abroad, but because of the bad management, it lost that touch over the past few years. We are taking informed steps to run it on corporate lines and turn it back into an efficient organization. A lot has already been done towards this end by the present chairman of WAPDA. You will soon see a visible transformation whereby WAPDA will once again be the leading organization of Pakistan.
8. After a successful political career. What do you feel most proud of?
When you start you career, you tend to focus about success in business and getting a better life. I succeeded in life and I am now focused on serving the general public interests, It is something I regret not starting earlier in my career, I was not related to politics in any way, I come from a very conservative family and being a politician was not considered something good. As I became a successful businessman, the then government started getting after me. There were people who wanted tpo extort money from me and my business. Once I refused to bend to their wishes since I had a clean record; they even tried to file criminal cases against me and I had to ultimately go to the court to settle things. This is when I realized that I needed to do something for the country; not only for the businessmen but also for the people trailing in the middle and lower middle class. Allah has been kind that I am now at a position where I can try and help people.
9. What is your final message to the readers of USA Today who consider Pakistan as a potential investment in the water resource space?
I welcome all the investors to the one window service in my ministry. We will provide you with everything possible to secure your investments and this is a good time to invest in Pakistan; not only to assist the people of Pakistan in the fields of science and technology but also to accrue Financial benefits in the process. The present Government focusses on transparency so be rest assured that your money will now be in safe hands. We will provide all kind of Financial Security to all foreign investors. Pakistan is a great country to invest in and we will welcome you with open arms!.