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BNP-M mulling over future strategy in parliament

Updated January 17, 2019

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PTI is non-serious over mutually agreed agenda, says BNP-M Chief Akhtar Mengal. — File photo
PTI is non-serious over mutually agreed agenda, says BNP-M Chief Akhtar Mengal. — File photo

KARACHI: In less than six months of its existence, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government seems to be moving towards being mired in numbers game as one of its key supporters in the parliament, the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), has hinted at parting ways with the ruling party while complaining of its “non-seriousness” over the points both sides agreed when their partnership began.

Though BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal assured that no anti-government move would come from his party, he sounded impressed with the fresh political development in the country when the opposition parties agreed on formation of a committee to finalise a joint strategy to give tough time to the government, saying such moves “always bring political stability in Pakistan.”

“Let me make it very clear that we are not part of the government,” he said while responding to questions by reporters outside his DHA residence before a meeting of his party’s central executive committee. “We have provided them support while sitting on independent benches. We support their every positive move and oppose negative ones. But the fact is that we have not witnessed seriousness at the government’s end over our agreed points, which convinces us to review our strategy.”

PTI is non-serious over mutually agreed agenda, says Mengal

Sharing his experiences with the PTI government and Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mr Mengal said that after every meeting between the two sides, a committee was formed “for nothing,” which only suggested another meeting leaving the real issues stagnant at the same level where they were some six months ago.

“We agreed on the six-point agenda at the time of the presidential elections and earlier after the general elections we developed consensus on nine points. But unfortunately, not one of these points has been taken up. I think there is sheer lack of seriousness [on part of the PTI] and unfortunately there’s no change in its attitude despite several reminders,” the BNP-M leader said.

Days after the PTI secured majority in the July 25 elections, it reached an agreement with the BNP-M and the two parties signed a six-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) after a marathon session between Mr Mengal and Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Under the MoU signed by Mr Mengal and Mr Qureshi, the BNP-M — having four seats in the National Assembly — had supported the PTI candidates for the office of prime minister and speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly.

However, cracks started emerging in the parliamentary partnership within a couple of months and Mr Mengal on record warned the PTI leadership that his party could withdraw its support for the federal government if the ruling party continued ignoring it while taking decisions about Balochistan. The warning, it appears, has now turned into action from Mr Mengal who is mulling it over before making a key decision about his party’s future strategy in the parliament while acknowledging the alliance of the opposition parties.

“We are not going to make any move against the government and if they review their strategy we would continue to support it,” he replied to a question about possible role of his party, after withdrawing support for the government, in the opposition alliance that had emerged recently. “The meeting of [Pakistan Peoples’ Party leader] Asif Zardari and [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief] Shahbaz Sharif is a good omen. The political forces always move together for strong democracy despite differences. I think it would bring political stability in the country.”

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2019