LAHORE: Punjab is again on the radar screen of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government as it is passing through tense moments with dissenting voices within the party and allies as well as political disconnect in running the affairs of the province.
While Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has returned from his Balochistan and south Punjab visit and is taking up several issues one after another to get the tense situation cooled down, Prime Minister Imran Khan is also expected to visit Lahore on Sunday (today) to review the situation and take decisions to rectify it.
In a bid to silence the dissenting voices, the chief minister on Saturday held a meeting with 20 disgruntled MPAs from southern, central and northern parts of the province, assuring them that their respect and honour would be protected at all costs and their genuine issues would be resolved on a priority basis.
Though the disgruntled group’s leader Sardar Shahabuddin had confirmed to Dawn that the government had committed to them Rs100 million to Rs150m each for their respective constituencies, no such announcement was made after the meeting.
Tareen also meets Punjab chief minister; Imran to visit Lahore today to reduce tension in his party
“The chief minister assured us that all genuine issues of the MPAs would be resolved on a priority basis and he promised to allocate development funds for their respective constituencies in the next Annual Development Programme,” a group member and MPA from Hafizabad Mamoon Tarar told Dawn after the meeting. He said the chief minister explained that there was funds paucity because the country was on the threshold of bankruptcy when the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) took over the government.
“We didn’t insist on announcing funds for 20 members of the (disgruntled) group because we were not blackmailing the Punjab government,” Mr Tarar asserted.
Earlier in the meeting, it is learnt, group leader Shahabuddin assured the chief minister that the 20 MPAs were standing behind him and they were loyal to the PTI chairman and the party. “Those looking to cash in on ‘a few days’ estranged relations’ will be disappointed,” he said. “We have a wonderful working relationship with CM Buzdar.”
Mr Tarar said the chief minister also assured them that all governance issues in their constituencies would be resolved and bureaucracy would be directed to listen to the elected representatives.
In the meeting, CM Buzdar was all out to appease the disgruntled MPAs and assured them that their all genuine demands would be met on a priority basis. He stressed that the whole PTI party including MNAs and MPAs needed to serve masses in unison and fail all propagandists. “We are also taking along all our allies with respect and honour,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the chief minister met the party’s senior leader Jahangir Khan Tareen and discussed political affairs and overall situation in the province – ahead of meeting the prime minister on Sunday (today).
The chief minister told Mr Tareen that the party in Punjab was united and those spreading rumours about collapse of the Punjab government would be disappointed. “There is neither any forward bloc nor a pressure group in Punjab,” he told Mr Tareen.
Mr Buzdar also explained that the Punjab government was taking its coalition partners along and all stakeholders were on the same page. “The PTI government, in a year and a half, has done wonders and executed governance that past governments could not do in years,” he said.
Mr Tareen said the difference of opinion was the beauty of democracy. He said the PTI government was serving the people and would continue doing so. “Those hatching conspiracies will be left behind and Naya Pakistan under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan will move forward,” he asserted.
The chief minister and Mr Tareen also met the party’s provincial and national assembly ticket holders and discussed matters regarding strengthening of the party, solution of problems in their constituencies and enhancing liaison with the people.
The chief minister announced that development projects would be launched in the constituencies of ticket-holders on preferential basis, saying neither any constituency nor any voter could be ignored. “The development works in the constituencies will be undertaken with the consultation of ticket-holders,” the chief minister said and added that he would also hold a meeting with PTI’s local leadership from different districts.
Mr Tareen said the ticket-holders were the asset of the PTI and added winning and losing elections was part of politics. “Strengthening the ticket-holders actually means strengthening the party,” he said and added that process of consultation with ticket-holders would continue.
Meanwhile, the chief minister also announced that Punjab would adopt the Zainab Alert Bill to ensure safety and wellbeing of children in the province.
He said in tweet: “We have principally decided to adopt #ZainabAlertBill to ensure safety and wellbeing of children in Punjab. Child abuse cases are always traumatic to hear and are our biggest concern. This is another leap in our mission of providing our children with safest possible environment”.
Sources say PM Imran Khan plans to meet Punjab’s governor, chief minister, cabinet members and senior bureaucrats to discuss governance issues and dispel the perception of “political disconnect” created during the last two months.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2020