ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party Vice President Sherry Rehman on Sunday expressed deep concern over the Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) announcement of unilaterally halting all gas input to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).
In a statement, Rehman said: “This one-sided and high-handed behaviour of the SSGC towards Pakistan Steel Mills clearly reflects the federal government’s myopia and disregard for democratic norms and consultations. Cutting off gas supply to the steel mills without a plan, or public conversation about how to rationalise resources, only demonstrates an attitude that ignores the problems faced by labour, as the mill employs more than 16,000 people.”
“There are also millions whose livelihood is indirectly connected to the Pakistan Steel Mills,” said Rehman, adding that the matter “should have been discussed transparently and constructively with at least the stakeholders.?”
Rehman said the issue will now have to be taken up by the Council of Common Interests.
She said if due transparency with diligence was not adopted, it would amount to the federal government bringing PSM to a standstill. This, she added, would be an opportunity for the federal government’s key allies to “buy this strategic ?national asset at throwaway prices.”
“I believe that the IMF has already been given assurances for this privatisation by December, which suggests that the SSGC’s move is a planned directive from the federal government. Already ailing from a stagnated production process due to low gas pressures, the mills’ production capacity will now be completely destroyed, setting it back three to four years,” she said.
“The Pakistan Steel Mills were envisioned by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who also laid their foundation,” said Rehman.
“Any attempt aimed at its unilateral and overnight dismantling will have to be taken to all constitutional forums, because this is not just a mammoth construction or real estate complex, it is the bread and butter of more than 17,000 families and a source of inspiration and unity for thousands of Pakistanis who came to Karachi from all around the country to earn a living.”