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June 21, 2020

Government, BNP-M talks end in stalemate

Top Story

June 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak and Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar met BNP-Mengal President MNA Akhtar Mengal here at his residence but the meeting remained inconclusive, as the Baloch leader declined to review his decision of parting ways with the ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had tasked the ministers to listen to the grievances of BNP-Mengal and convince him to reverse the decision, he had announced on the floor of the National Assembly the other day. During the meeting, Pervaiz Khattak and Asad Umar requested Sardar Akhtar Mengal to withdraw the decision but he refused to do so and thus the meeting remained fruitless.

After the meeting, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak said that the BNP's reservations would be removed soon and there would be further meetings with Sardar Akhtar Mengal. Asad Umar said that PTI believed that the country would not be able to make progress if every part of the country was not developed and given due rights.

The BNP chief said that the prime minister had not made any direct contact so far and that he could not violate the party's decision. “We have put our concerns before the government's delegation,” he maintained. It may be recalled that Sardar Akhtar Mengal, head of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), recently announced his separation from the ruling coalition and the Jamhoori Watan Party of Nawab Shazain Bugti had also started considering splitting from the coalition. BNP-Mengal has four NA seats.

BNP-Mengal had decided to side with PTI after the 2018 general election, putting before the party leadership six major demands, which included recovery of the missing persons in Balochistan and implementation of the National Action Plan and repatriation of the Afghan refugees and mainstreaming of the province. It is pertinent to mention that before the separation of the BNP, the PTI government had 186 seats in the National Assembly with the support of all allies, which has now been reduced to 182 after the separation of the BNP-M. A simple majority of 172 members is required, which is still being maintained.

PML-N Senator Kalsoom Parveen on the floor of the Senate during the ongoing budget discussion, claimed that the government would not be able to get the budget through the National Assembly in the given situation inside the Parliament.

Earlier during an All Parties Conference convened by Jamiat Uelma-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Akhtar Mengal responding to a question, said his party would rejoin the government coalition once the federal government announced to fulfill its promise and accept BNP’s demands. “I am not an individual to quit the coalition as the decision in this regard was taken by the party’s central executive committee,” he said.

He said previously the BNP-M continued to warn the PTI government while reminding it of its promises. “I think it has never happened in the country’s history that a party announced to part ways with the government on floor of Parliament,” he said. To another question, Akhtar Mengal suggested that a comparison should be made between wealth and properties of three dictators like Pervez Musharraf, Ayub Khan and Zialul Haq with all Nawabs and Sardars of Balochistan.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned another meeting of negotiating committee to resolve the matter of Balochistan National Party-Mengal's (BNP-M) withdrawal from the government.

The committee comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak and Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar will brief the premier over their discussion with the disgruntled BNP-M leadership. The PM will also be informed about the meeting between Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and BNP-M Chief Akhtar Mengal.