BNP-M chief announces withdrawal from PTI coalition govt
Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal on Wednesday announced his party’s withdrawal from its alliance with the PTI-led federal government over its failure to implement accords with the party.
Speaking during a session of the National Assembly, he said: “I am officially announcing that our party is ending its alliance with the PTI. We will stay in Parliament and will keep talking about issues.”
Mengal added that the PTI had signed two agreements with the party at the time of government formation after the 2018 elections and later during the presidential elections, but not a single point of the accord was implemented.
“If our demands were illegal and unconstitutional then we are ready to face even death. But then all those who have put their signatures on these accords should also face the same,” he said.
Mengal presented two separate lists of missing persons before the Assembly. One of the lists contained the names of 18 people who have been recovered so far while the other contained the names of nearly 500 people who had gone missing after signing the agreements with the PTI, he said.
He said the decision to come out of the ruling coalition was made after many meetings of the party’s central executive committee. “The law and order situation is worsening in Balochistan, death squads have been reactivated,” he claimed.
He added that the people of the province “were not slaves” and questioned why a Balochistan peace conference could not be convened similar to the conference held for the Afghanistan peace process.
“[The government] is worried about Kashmir more than Balochistan. [The government] is constituting committees on Kashmir which is not with it, but is not worried about losing what it already has. This House can discuss issues of wheat, sugar and tomatoes, but not the blood of the Baloch people.
“The allocations which have been made in the budget for projects in Balochistan shows [the government’s] seriousness. The prime minister has no time to visit the camps of missing persons. He has no time to meet the fishermen facing problems,” he thundered.
“We have simply demanded that the missing persons be recovered and the National Action Plan against terrorism be implemented in letter and spirit. Through the other agreement, we have demanded projects for Balochistan and Gwadar.”
Mengal said that agreements made with the people of the province were “openly violated in the past too”. He also criticised the government for cutting shares of the provinces in the National Finance Commission (NFC).
He added that the government, despite “repeated warnings” did not take steps to stop locust attacks. “[The government] has aircraft for chief minister and it can buy F-16s, but there is no aircraft for aerial spray.”
He held the federal and Balochistan governments responsible for the spread of Covid-19 in the country by allowing pilgrims from Iran to enter Taftan without making any arrangements. “A first information report (FIR) should be registered against whoever is responsible for the deaths in the country due to coronavirus,” he said.
“The Parliament has been turned into a Hyde Park corner where the members are free to vent their frustration through speeches but no one is there to listen to them seriously,” he alleged.
Pointing towards the empty treasury benches, he said that no one was there to take notes. “These benches were full on the budget presentation day and they will again be full when it will be voted upon.”
In January, BNP-M leaders including MNA Khalid Magsi, Ahsan Ullah Reki, Israr Tareen, Senator Manzoor Kakar, Naseeb Ullah Badini, Rubina Irfan and Sana Jamali participated in talks with the government as it started efforts to appease its ‘annoyed’ allies. However, the BNP-M chief did not participate in the talks.
The government side had assured the Baloch leaders that it would address all grievances of the party and would include them in “development-oriented” decision making.
The BNP-M and PTI had signed a six-point memorandum of understanding (MoU) in August 2018 for an alliance 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
- construction of dams in the province to resolve the acute water crisis
The alliance with the PTI was only at the Centre, while the BNP-M’s alliance with the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl in Balochistan continued at the provincial level.
The BNP-M is not the only party to have had troubles with the PTI’s coalition government. In March, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan decided to rejoin the cabinet as the PTI assured it of development funds for Karachi and Hyderabad in addition to one more ministry at a later stage.
On Jan 12, MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had announced that he was resigning as federal minister for information technology and telecom because the PTI did not fulfil its promises.
He had said that his party would continue to support the PTI government. During the 70-day period, Dr Farogh Naseem, an MQM-P senator, continued to represent the party in the cabinet of Prime Minister Imran Khan as law minister.
Numbers in NA
Before the BNP-M’s withdrawal, the PTI enjoyed majority in the National Assembly with 156 seats while along with all its allies it had a total of 186 seats in the lower house of parliament. The MQM has seven, PML-Q has five, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) five, BNP-M has four, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) has three and Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) and Awami Muslim League have one seat each besides four independent lawmakers.
On the other hand the opposition has 156 seats, as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has 84 seats, Pakistan Peoples Party 55, Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal Pakistan 16 and Awami National Party has one seat.