ISLAMABAD: Akhtar Mengal, the head of the government's disgruntled coalition partner Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), has decided that his party would attend the opposition's all-parties conference (APC).
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of his faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), met him in Islamabad on Tuesday and invited him to the event.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mengal said the BNP-M was still discussing its issues with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), but it would participate in the APC as a political party.
"I will call a meeting of the party to discuss our participation in the APC and hope that I will give a positive response to him [Fazl]," he added.
Mengal said the PTI had agreed to his party's six-point agenda in return for its support in the formation of the government. However, he added, the PTI had only given verbal assurances to the BNP-M instead of taking any practical steps to implement the agreement.
Disillusioned BNP-M veers towards opposition
He added that although his party had voted for the PTI on some points, it was not an ally of the ruling party.
The BNP-M chief said his party's ties with the JUI-F went way back when his and Fazl's father were the chief ministers of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (then NWFP) respectively.
"Both parties [BNP-M and JUI-F] are allies in Balochistan today. My party has a responsibility to play a role in the politics of the country. We want a strong democracy, transparent elections and independent judiciary," he added.
Commenting on the approval of the budget for the new fiscal year in the National Assembly, Mengal said many elected and unelected governments in the past had presented budgets but there had been no signs of improvement in the country.
"Political parties will have to come up with a clear agenda for the restoration of democracy. It is also possible that the ruling party will also agree to a national agenda," he remarked.
The BNP-M chief said missing persons was major issue and it was on top of the six-point agenda his party had signed with the PTI.
"The people of Balochistan are concerned about the demographic changes that could take place in the name of development," he added
"I have raised this issue with the government several times but what can I do if they don't want to understand."
Will part ways if demands not met, BNP to PTI
Mengal further said the issue of missing persons was not limited to Balochistan only and other provinces were facing the problem as well. "Human rights are respected in a democratic society. If basic human rights are being violated, democracy cannot flourish."
Speaking to reporters alongside the BNP-M chief, Fazl said the APC was expected to take place next week and it was necessary for the nation to unite to achieve the desired goals.
The JUI-F chief added that he was grateful to Mengal for his positive response to his invitation.
Fazl said many sit-ins had been staged in Islamabad to raise the issue of missing persons. "The state will have to satisfy the families of the missing persons who have not been produced in courts."
PPP and PML-N
Opposition leaders have set the tentative dates of June 25 to 26 for their two-day all-parties conference (APC) and the final announcement will be made later.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Khursheed Shah has informed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif about his party's action plan.
In a meeting, they discussed their parties' strategy in the National Assembly and also expressed their concerns of the speaker not issuing the production order of PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who is in NAB custody.
The tentative dates for the APC were decided at the JUI-F chief's meeting with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Shehbaz.
Separately, PPP Chairman Bilawal has announced a public coordination movement against the government.
The decision was made at a meeting of the party's coordination committee at the residence of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.