Govt starts efforts to win back BNP-M’s support

Updated Jun 19 2020

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Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani holds meeting with BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal. — AFP/File
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani holds meeting with BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A day after the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) announced its decision about parting of ways with the federal government led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), efforts have begun to win back the party’s support.

In what was the first formal contact from the government side with the party after it quit the ruling coalition, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani held a meeting with BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.

Sources said that besides using his personal clout as a Baloch leader to woo back Mr Mengal, Mr Sanjrani delivered to him a message from a negotiating committee led by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak.

Mr Sanjrani also informed Mr Mengal that the committee would soon call on him.

The BNP-M chief, however, was said to have stuck to his position and said he had nothing to do now. “I have done what I was supposed to do and the ball is in the government’s court now,” he was quoted as saying.

On this, Mr Sanjrani promised him to convey his message to the negotiating committee and said, “We want to take you along.”

He also underlined the need for collective efforts to solve problems confronting Balochistan.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Mengal referred to his announcement to quit the ruling coalition a day earlier on the floor of the National Assembly.

He said Mr Sanjrani was not from the PTI, but he was associated with the Balochistan Awami Party which is a part of the ruling coalition. He said Mr Sanjrani wanted to understand the issue.

He said he made it clear that the decision had been taken under the party’s considered viewpoint and he had no authority to reverse it in his personal capacity.

He said he had asked Mr Sanjrani to ask the government as to why the promises made in the past could not be fulfilled and problems could not be solved. He also questioned as to who was responsible for it.

In August 2018, the PTI and the BNP-M signed a six-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) to make a coalition government at the Centre. The six points included recovery of missing persons, implementation of the National Action Plan, implementation of six per cent quota for Balochistan in the federal government, immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees and construction of dams in the province to solve the problem of acute water shortage.

The BNP-M has been demanding since then implementation on the agreement.

In June last year, Mr Mengal for the first time threatened to quit the ruling coalition if the demands were not met.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020