ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has started reaching out to its coalition partners, especially the disgruntled Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), to ensure that there are enough numbers to have the budget for the next fiscal year passed in the National Assembly.
A three-member team of the government comprising Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and Adviser to the PM on Establishment Shehzad Arbab called on BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal at the parliamentary lodges on Wednesday. Mengal was accompanied by Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini and MNA Agha Hassan Baloch.
The BNP-M has repeatedly warned the PTI that it would part ways with the federal government if it did not implement the six-point agenda the two parties had agreed on when they entered an alliance.
Mengal has recently been vocal against the policies of the PTI government and seems to be heading towards the opposition camp.
The government delegation’s meeting with Mengal and other BNP-M leaders lasted for over one and a half hours.
Sources said the delegation assured the BNP-M that its reservations would be addressed soon.
Khattak told Mengal that a committee would be formed to implement the six-point agenda.
Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed government spokespersons to adopt an aggressive stance towards the opposition while defending the measures taken to stabilise the economy.
Chairing a meeting at the PM Office, the prime minister instructed the spokespersons to respond effectively to the opposition’s criticism of the government’s economic policies and assure the people that there was no reason to be worried.
Responding to the prime minister’s announcement that he would form a commission to investigate into the country’s massive debt pile-up in the last 10 years, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders said PM Imran was trying to deceive the people into believing that only previous governments had taken loans and transferred the money abroad.
“During 2011-12, we returned Rs1.024 trillion on account of debt repayment and Rs1.588 trillion in 2014-15,” PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira said at a news conference, accompanied by party leaders Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, Dr. Nafeesa Shah, and Nazeer Dholki.
“The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government returned Rs1.950 billion. The governments in the past have returned paid back loans amounting to billions,” he added.
“If you [prime minister] wish to know how much debt piled up during your government’s tenure, you can ask your finance adviser.”
The PPP leader said the prime minister in his speech said nothing of relevance and only criticised his political opponents.
He also said political rivals had been arrested just before the presentation of the budget to divert the attention of the people and escape criticism.
Kaira maintained that the federal government, in the budget proposed for the next fiscal year, had imposed taxes on all essential goods.
“Government workers, farmers, industrialists, exporters, everyone is worried,” he added.