PM’s aide Shahzain Bugti parts ways with coalition

Published March 28, 2022
ISLAMABAD: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Jamhoori  Watan Party head Shahzain Bugti address a press conference.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Jamhoori Watan Party head Shahzain Bugti address a press conference.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) coalition government on Sunday suffered another setback when Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Reconciliation and Harmony in Balochistan Shahzain Bugti announced quitting the cabinet ahead of the crucial National Assembly vote on the opposition’s no- confidence resolution against Imran Khan.

Mr Bugti, the lone member of Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) from Balochistan, made the announcement during a news conference after meeting Pakis­tan Peoples Party (PPP) Chair­man Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Citing reasons for his decision to leave the ruling coalition, Mr Bugti alleged that the federal government did not release the required funds for Balochistan, which were necessary to maintain peace in and development of the province.

Bilawal says no-trust is test of institutions’ neutrality

“You [PM] couldn’t allocate Rs4 billion for the province. Do you consider the province your last priority?” he asked. The JWP chief said they had been seeking the money to provide stipends to the students and for development of health infrastructure in the province where, he regretted, there was not even blood banks in many areas.

Mr Bugti, who had been included in the federal cabinet in July with the task of holding talks with disgruntled Baloch people, claimed that due to his efforts he had managed to control “insurgency” in Balochistan, but due to “negligence” of the federal government, the insurgency had started again in the province during the last two weeks.

“The federal government gave us hope that things will improve but people have been disappointed,” said Mr Bugti, alleging that the government had failed to deliver in Balochistan.

“We are standing by the Pakis­tan Democratic Movement (PDM) and will do whatever we can,” he said, without realising that the PPP was not part of the opposition alliance.

The JWP leader said Imran Khan had after coming to power stated that his focus would be on the country’s less-developed areas, including south Punjab, Balochistan and some areas of Sindh, but he failed to do so.

Mr Bugti also criticised the prime minister for targeting the opposition in his speeches. He asked the prime minister to produce evidence of corruption against the opposition leaders instead of calling them corrupt and thieves.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhutto-Zardari termed Mr Bugti’s decision “timely and courageous”. He said Imran Khan had “betrayed” his allies the same way as he had done with people and the opposition. He was of the view that as long as true representatives of people did not come forward, people’s problems could not be solved.

He said that issues of Balochistan were very complicated and people of Balochistan had not got justice in the past.

Answering questions, the PPP chairman said that all the allies of the PTI government had made their decisions and now it was up to them to decide the timing of their announcement.

He recalled that Asif Zardari as the president of the country and the supreme commander of Pakistan Army had apologised to the people of Balochistan over the past mistakes.

He said Imran Khan had lost his majority already and it was too late now for him to make any announcement. He said the pressure tactics and threats of imposition of emergency or governor’s rule would not work now. He said that attacks on the Parliament Lodges and Sindh House were all signs of a desperate man.

“Those on the losing side use violence to disrupt peace. Imran cannot release a single notification or advice, let alone impose governor’s rule or declare an emergency. The opposition is not taking this threat seriously,” he said while responding to questions regarding imposition of governor’s rule in Sindh.

In response to a question about the neutrality of institutions, the PPP chairman said he hoped that “neutrality” was maintained, stating that “no-confidence is the test of neutrality”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari also lashed out at Imran Khan for targeting the judiciary in his recent speech. He said that at a time when the whole environment had been polarised, “it is the credibility of our chief justice that the opposition and government’s representatives are in the court”.

“We believe that the decision taken by the chief justice and the Supreme Court will be for the benefit of the country. It is the chief justice’s authority to form a bench as per his wish,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2022

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