ISLAMABAD: Amid growing pressure exerted by its allies for fulfilment of their demands, the government has shown some flexibility to address their common grievance of lack of development activities in their respective constituencies.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday chaired a meeting of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s core committee and issued directives for initiating those programmes which directly benefited the common man.
Meanwhile, a government team headed by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak continued negotiations with disgruntled coalition partners by holding separate meetings with leaders of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) to remove their grievances.
Among the demands of four main coalition partners that had been placed before the government, the common one is release of development funds at the district level so that development activities could be started in their “neglected” constituencies.
The prime minister also held a one-on-one meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and they apparently discussed the issue of distribution of development funds in the province as demanded by the Pakistan Muslim League-Q which has recently parted ways with the federal cabinet.
Sources said that the BNP-M placed its six old demands before the government that included release of missing persons of Balochistan and development activities in the province. The GDA’s main demand was development of remote areas of Sindh from where the Alliance leaders hail.
When contacted, BNP-M leader Mohammad Hashim Notezai said that his party reiterated its six old demands and the government side assured it that it would make sincere efforts for recovery of more than 500 missing persons of Balochistan.
He said that the BNP-M also expressed concern over influx of “outsiders” in Gwadar and demanded that no outsider be issued national identity card with the home address of the port city.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the prime minister wanted all MNAs and MPAs to spend more time in their constituencies to solve people’s problems.
The BNP-M’s six-point agenda includes recovery of missing persons, implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism, implementation of six per cent quota for Balochistan in federal government jobs, repatriation of Afghan refugees and construction of dams in the province to end the acute water crisis.
“We did not blackmail the PTI by demanding ministries, high-profile postings or other benefits to support its government in Islamabad,” Mr Notezai said, adding that the BNP-M just asked for rights of Balochistan’s people.
“It will be extremely difficult for peace to prevail in Balochistan if a political solution is not found to the crisis facing the province,” he said.
Firdous Ashiq Awan said the prime minister wanted the process of consultation with the government allies continued.
Later, a source privy to a meeting between the PTI and GDA leaders said the Alliance was also demanding development activities in many parts of Sindh which they said had remained ignored in the past.
Some political circles believe that sudden annoyance of the government allies have raised suspicion that a “hidden” move has started against Prime Minister Imran Khan who came into power 15 months ago.
Not only that the BNP-M and the GDA have raised demands, other coalition partners — Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement — have parted ways with the federal cabinet and their members have skipped a recent cabinet meeting because of differences with the government.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020