BNP-M gives govt a second chance

Published: June 27, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has decided to give a second chance to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to implement the six-point agenda they had agreed on last year as the government succeeded in winning over its disgruntled coalition partner for having the budget for the new fiscal year passed.

“The six points have been discussed and the government has assured its coalition partner that they will be addressed,” Defence Minister Pervez Khattak told reporters at the Parliament House in Islamabad on Thursday alongside BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal.

“The two parties have reached an agreement and are working together for national interest,” he added.

Khattak said one of the main issues raised by the BNP-M – the recovery of missing persons — would soon be resolved as the government and the leaders of Balochistan were working together to find a solution.

Speaking on the occasion, Mengal elaborated that a meeting was held with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday during which the issue of missing persons was discussed.

“It was highlighted [in the meeting with the prime minister] that resolving the issue of missing persons was necessary for the development of Balochistan.

The BNP-M chief added that the issue of Balochistan was political in nature and only political leaders could solve it.

“A committee has been formed to resolve the issues of the people of the province and it will present its report within six months.”

Mengal had recently warned the government that his party would join the opposition if there was no progress on the six-point agenda the ruling party had signed with the BNP-M last year for its support in the formation of the government.

He complained that the PTI had only given verbal assurances to the BNP-M instead of taking any practical steps to implement the agreement.

However, to bag enough votes to have the budget passed in the National Assembly, the government reached out to its disgruntled coalition partner and managed to convince it into giving the ruling party a second chance.

It became clear on Wednesday that the government’s efforts had paid off when Mengal, contrary to an earlier announcement, decided to stay away from the opposition parties’ all parties conference.

The defence minister also highlighted the efforts under way for the development of Balochistan. They include addressing the issue of electricity for tube wells, which are being converted to solar energy and the construction of small dams to improve the availability of potable water.

He said 6% of jobs in government departments would be reserved for the people of Balochistan and a gold refinery would also be set up in the province.

Both the leaders refuted rumours about rolling back the 18th Constitutional Amendment and a cut in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award for Balochistan.

“These rumours are just political propaganda and the prime minister had assured the leaders of Balochistan that no such reduction was being planned,” Mengal said.

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