Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had a heated exchange on the water crisis during a National Assembly session on Wednesday.
Responding to a notice moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders calling attention to a water shortage in Sindh, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader held former premier Nawaz Sharif’s government responsible for water theft in the province.
Taking to the floor, the minister said he wanted to inform the House that he had unearthed that the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had “stolen Sindh's share of water”.
“The previous government led by Nawaz stole water from Sindh,” Vawda alleged. "Nawaz robbed another province of its rights," he added while addressing the NA session.
Delving into details regarding how the PML-N stole water, Vawda said, “Verbal orders were issued to shutdown water telemeters and the supply of water to the province was being measured manually.”
"The province was being supplied water 58 per cent less than what was required. Of this percentage, 44 per cent was stolen and the rest were losses," he added.
Vawda continued, "If I have to, then I will request other provinces to be more generous in providing water to Sindh."
The federal minister for water resources further said that he will meet Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to resolve the issue. "I will walk shoulder to shoulder with the Sindh government on the water issue," Vawda added.
In response, PML-N leader Abbasi said, “The federal minister’s allegations that water was stolen from Sindh and Balochistan for Punjab are serious. A parliamentary committee should be formed to probe into the allegations."
To this, Vawda said, “I did not mention the name of Punjab and there is no need for a parliamentary committee. I will present a report on this in the House myself.”
"They [PML-N govt] stole massively from every department," the PTI MNA further asserted.
Abbasi then said, “If you will level allegations then start the investigations from me.” He added, "If you call us thieves then I will call you and your father a thief."
The federal minister for water resources responded, “If Abbasi calls me and my father a thief then that is his upbringing.”