Kakar’s pick as interim PM has ‘widened distance’ between PML-N, BNP-M: Mengal

Published August 13, 2023
BNP-M Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.—-DawnNews screengrab/file
BNP-M Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal.—-DawnNews screengrab/file

The appointment of BAP Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar as the caretaker prime minister by the outgoing coalition government has “widened the distance” between allied parties PML-N and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), according to a letter written by the latter’s chief to former premier Nawaz Sharif on Sunday.

In his letter, BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal expressed reservations over the coalition government’s decision to choose Kakar — without naming him — as the interim premier without consultations with allied parties. He also mentioned legislating for “in the dark” and expressed disappointment in the party’s actions, stating that he had hoped for greater empathy after past experiences.

Yesterday, after weeks of deliberations, Kakar was named the caretaker prime minister after Prime Minister She­h­baz Sharif and Opposi­tion Leader Raja Riaz reached a consensus over his “surprise” nomination.

The initial positive reactions over his surprise nomination demonstrated how Kakar was acceptable to all political parties, especially those part of the ruling coalition headed by outgoing PM Shehbaz Sharif. In addition, the BAP is thought to have the backing of the country’s establishment.

A member of the outgoing ruling coalition told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that Kakar was a “surprise” for many in the alliance; in fact, “even those who signed the summary of Kakar’s nomination too were unaware about Kakar’s name.”

“Mr Kakar’s name came from somewhere else and it had to be accepted by all stakeholders,” the politician said while responding to a question about the Sharifs’ failure to get their own man in the caretaker’s saddle.

A similar comment was made by PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah, who said no one was aware that Kakar would become the interim PM.

In the letter written today, Mengal lamented the actions of politicians to approach the establishment for every problem’s solution instead of resolving them politically.

He cited a letter written to Sharif last month on July 22, hoping the issues would reduce by now but instead, they increased.

He lamented that through the “establishment’s consultation” rather than resolving them through political means.

“Mian Sahib, what has befallen us might be our fate, but what’s surprising is that you people, after facing hardships, haven’t learned any lessons. We remember the atrocities from General Ayub to General Musharraf. But your party forgets the conspiracies and unconstitutional actions of Musharraf and Bajwa too quickly. Once again, you’re weakening democratic institutions by legislating in the dark without involving allies, thereby strengthening undemocratic powers.”

The former Balochistan chief minister said: “Legislation contrary to human rights will probably be used against you in the future, [we know] because we, the residents of Balochistan, have not been considered as human beings since day one.”

He said taking decisions without the confidence of allies will only perpetuate the mistrust between larger and small provinces.

“Laws are made and broken to protect their interests and pave the way for their future government, but on the contrary, it is against the law for the people of Balochistan to cry for their loved ones.

“All this happened in the last two periods of government and we thought this time maybe after those bitter experiences your party would have realized now but it has failed us again like before.”

Mengal expressed that he wished the true history of the past 76 years was available in the textbooks of Pakistan studies so “maybe we would have learned from history but now we and you are answerable to history and will remain to do so”.

Towards the end of the letter, the Baloch tribal elder made it clear that Kakar’s nomination as the interim prime minister not only put an end to his politics but Sharif’s decisions also “created more distance between the two”.

Kakar, who hails from Balochistan, will bec­ome the eighth caretaker prime minister. Pre­sident Arif Alvi had signed a summary sent to him by the outgoing prime minister regarding his appointment after the second round of talks with Raja Riaz.

The BNP-M, which was previously allied with the then-ruling PTI in the Centre in 2018, joined hands with the PDM to eventually bring down Imran Khan’s government. Mengal’s party has since been vocal about its uneasiness with the outgoing PML-N-led coalition’s policies, hinting on several occasions at parting ways with it.

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