'Disgruntled' lawmakers appear in PTI ranks

Updated January 21, 2020

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Sources in the PTI say frustration was growing among the party MPAs owing to party’s failure in delivering and winning public praise for the Punjab government. — Dawn/File
Sources in the PTI say frustration was growing among the party MPAs owing to party’s failure in delivering and winning public praise for the Punjab government. — Dawn/File

LAHORE: Already facing tough time from party allies, a group of ‘disgruntled’ PTI lawmakers have surfaced in Punjab openly expressing their resentment for being ignored in the distribution of public funds and public welfare projects.

“We have faced ‘ruthless’ discrimination from the Shahbaz government during the past one decade and the situation seems no different in the Buzdar dispensation as our constituencies are still being ignored in terms of development projects,” said PTI MPA Sardar Shahabuddin, while speaking to Dawn on Monday.

Mr Shahabuddin, who has been elected as MPA on PTI ticket from PP-263 (Layyah-II), said 20 MPAs have joined hands to raise their “genuine concerns” before the party leadership as their voters were pushing them to deliver at least in the PTI government. “As many as 10 MPAs belong to the South Punjab and others hail from centre/north Punjab,” he said.

Telling that all 20 MPAs have neither created any forward bloc nor planning to give ‘tough time’ to the party leadership, Mr Shahabuddin told Dawn that he along with other MPAs under the banner of "Supremacy of Parliament" had met chief minister Usman Buzdar twice and explained their concerns.

20 party MPAs resent non-availability of development funds

Though the chief minister had assured us of remedying our concerns, he said, no concrete action had so far been taken. "We are scheduled to hold another meeting with Mr Buzdar on Wednesday (tomorrow) ahead of the Punjab Assembly session – for follow-up," he said.

It is learnt that the 20 ‘estranged’ MPAs hail from D.G. Khan, Bhakkar, Layyah, Vehari, Hafizabad, Chiniot, Sargodha and Rawalpindi. “We want our districts be upgraded like Lahore and Faisalabad,” Mr Shahabuddin added.

Sources in the PTI say frustration was growing among the party MPAs owing to party’s failure in delivering and winning public praise for the Punjab government led by CM Usman Buzdar.

Only a day earlier, PTI government’s important ally PML-Q had expressed its grievance for not getting complete administrative share in different districts and set a one-week ultimatum. The PML-Q leadership had reportedly expressed concerns that Mr Buzdar was not a powerful chief minister and Punjab was being run by the federal government through the chief secretary and the IG Police. Sources say Mr Buzdar has been reduced to just a figure head.

When contacted, PTI central Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry said the party MPAs’ genuine grievances were being addressed on an urgent basis and CM Buzdar was working on it. Stating that the PTI government and party leadership was in contact with the 20 MPAs, he acknowledged that issues were there as the government was facing acute shortage of finances and added the previous PML-N government had bankrupted the country. “All party MPAs will get their due share,” he said.

Regarding PML-Q’s concerns, Mr Chaudhry said the PML-Q lawmakers were “responsible allies.” The PTI did not expect such non-seriousness [one-week ultimatum] of them,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar has said the PML-Q had neither expressed its desire for Punjab’s chief minister slot nor Usman Buzdar was being replaced.

He said the PML-Q, MQM and Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) were standing with the government, and they also held out assurance that they would not become part of any move aimed at toppling the PTI government. “Mr Buzdar faces no threat as long as he enjoys the support of Punjab Assembly and Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he added.

Regarding party MPAs concerns, the governor said, “Intra-party difference of opinion is beauty of democracy and PTI believes in freedom of expression – essence of a democratic set-up. The parliamentarians have the prerogative to put forth their demands/requirements since they have been elected to the assemblies by making promises with the people of their respective constituencies”.

“The PTI government will ensure resolving assembly members’ issues through mutual dialogue and consensus,” he said and added that a government’s re-conciliatory team was in constant liaison with the allied parties.

Our correspondent from Layyah adds: The [disgruntled] members include Sardar Shahabuddin Khan from Layyah, Sardar Mohiuddin Khan Khosa and Khwaja Muhammad Daud from DG Khan, Malik Ghazanfar Abbas Cheena and Amir Inayatullah Shahani from Bhakkar, Faisal Farooq Cheema and Muneeb Sultan Cheema from Sargodha, Taimoor Lali from Chiniot, Ijaz Khan from Rawalpindi, Mamoon Tarar and Ahsan Jahangir Bhatti from Hafizabad, Ali Khakwani and Muhammad Afzal Bandaisha from Vehari, Iftikhar Gondal, Gulraiz Ashgar Chan and three women members.

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2020