Pakistani senator questions coal sales to India

August 6th, 2008 - 5:23 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Islamabad, Aug 6 (IANS) At a time the government and industry lobbies are batting for increased trade with India as a means of improving ties, an opposition senator in Pakistan has questioned a proposal to sell coal to India. “Are these reports correct? The government should come up with a rebuttal if these are not correct,” Tariq Azeem of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) asked during a Senate debate Tuesday on the external threats to the country.

Quoting from media reports, Azeem said that a senior bureaucrat had recently visited Mumbai for talks with the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group for giving it control of the coal deposits in Sindh’s Thar desert, The News reported Wednesday.

As a follow-up of that visit, Azeem said, negotiations were also conducted in Dubai with India-born steel czar L.N. Mittal on the proposed privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills.

However, neither Law and Justice Minister Farooq H. Naek or Housing Minister Rehmatullah Kakar, who were present in the house at the time, confirmed nor denied the coal sale reports.

“The senator also did not press the matter further,” the newspaper said.

Azeem later told The News that “he was expecting a prompt reply from the government on this issue, but surprisingly, no one from the ministers rose to say anything in this connection”.

President Pervez Musharraf backs the PML-Q and analysts here said the issue could have been raised merely for its nuisance value.

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