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June 29, 2020

Imran jumps to get budget passed: We are the only choice, says PM

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June 29, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Days after the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), a now-former ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government at the Centre, parted ways with its coalition partner, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), another member of the ruling alliance, decided to not attend a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday night to muster support for passage of the budget 2020-21.

However, the disgruntled PTI MNAs and other allied parties including the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) lawmakers as well as independent MNAs allied with the government, ministers and special assistants attended the dinner hosted by the premier.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister, in order to address reservations expressed by his government’s allies about the proposed federal budget, extended a dinner invitation to the member parties of the coalition. According to reports, the leadership of BNP-M was also invited, however, it decided against attending the event.

A spokesperson for PML-Q confirmed that the federal government, in fact, contacted the party leadership and invited them to the dinner. However, he said, the Chaudhry brothers turned down the dinner due to “busy schedules”. Nonetheless, according to the spokesperson, the party would vote for the budget.

Speaking at the dinner, the prime minister said the next five-year term also belongs to the PTI. “Whatever the opposition do, we are the only choice,” said the PM.

He said his government can complete its five-year tenure very easily if he comes to a compromise with the opposition parties. He said the opposition parties have united to save their corruption.

The premier said the country’s economy has been affected because of the coronavirus. Imran Khan also criticised the PPP in his speech and said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s party has destroyed itself by moving away from its ideology. He added that his party, however, is standing with its ideology and will always stand by it. The prime minister said that he was under immense pressure to hide the sugar inquiry report but he chose to publish it. He added that a former military dictator failed to make public inquiry reports into sugar crises twice in his government because of the pressure.

The premier listened to the demands and reservations of the allies and party lawmakers. Imran Khan also took the partners into confidence over the budget 2020-21 and the country’s economic condition.

Imran Khan said that development of Balochistan is one of the top most priorities of his government.

Giving special impetus to the province of Balochistan, the premier said his government wants to rid it of its feeling of being marginalised. He said that the government is paying special focus to development projects in the province and expressed hope for their timely completion.

Ahead of the dinner, the premier held separate meetings with his government coalition partners.

A BAP delegation, consisting of Federal Minister Zubaida Jalal, Ehsanullah Reki, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Muhammad Israr Tareen and Rubina Irfan met the prime minister.

From the ruling party side, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Muhammad Qasim Suri and Chief Whip Malik Amir Dogar were also present during the meeting.

Besides the budget, matters relating to the coalition government and BAP’s issues came up for deliberations. The prime minister held out assurance to the coalition partners to take them along and that their genuine concerns would be addressed on priority basis.

The prime minister also lauded the GDA cooperation in the given difficult times for the betterment of the people and the country, as a GDA delegation, comprising Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza and Saira Bano, MNA, met the prime minister.

Meanwhile, an MQM-Pakistan delegation also called on the prime minister, which included Syed Aminul Haq, Iqbal Muhammad Ali Khan, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Kishwer Zehra, Sabir Hussain Kaimkhani, Salahuddin and Usama Qadri.

The meeting discussed the new budget and the projects mainly for Karachi.

Separately, the JWP President Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti also called on the prime minister as well as independent MNA Muhammad Aslam Bhootani, besides MNA Ghulam Bibi Bharwana.

Though Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser failed to convince the parliamentarians of the PML-Q to attend the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan, yet he got assurance of vote for the passage of budget.

According to sources, Asad Qaiser held a meeting with Minister of Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema, who is also Secretary General of the PML-Q, at the latter’s residence on Sunday to convince the PML-Q legislators to attend the dinner hosted by Imran Khan.

Sources said that the at the residence of Tariq Bashir Cheema, Asad Qaiser made telephonic contact with the PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to request at least send any single legislator if not all the legislators can come to attend the dinner. However, sources said Chaudhry Shujaat politely declined the invitation, but assured the speaker about the vote of PML-Q for the passage of the budget.

Meanwhile, the PML-Q hosted a separate diner meeting of the allied parties of the government, except the ruling PTI, at the residence of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.

The dinner by Chaudhry Shujaat was arranged at a same time of dinner hosted by Prime Minister Imran Khan for government and its allied parties.

The diner was attended by Tariq Bashir Cheema and Chaudhry Moonis Elahi from the PML-Q, Chaudhry Salik Hussain and Independent MNA from Balochistan Aslam Bhootani, Israr Tareen, Ehsanullah Reki, Zubaida Jalal from BAP and Robina Irfan.

GDA leader Fehmida Mirza also joined the diner of PML-Q after attending Imran Khan’s diner.

However, no one from the MQM-Pakistan attended the PML-Q hosted dinner.