QUETTA/ ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) on Wednesday announced quitting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led coalition government at the Centre, saying the government did not keep its end of the agreements.
The BNP has four votes in the National Assembly and one in the Senate.
BNP-M President Sardar Akhtar Mengal made the announcement while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly.
“I am officially announcing that our party is ending its alliance with the PTI,” he said. “We will stay in parliament and continue raising issues."
He further said the BNP-M’s central executive committee had held several meetings on the matter and finally made the decision.
Mengal pointed out that his party had signed two agreements with the PTI -- the first one when the government was formed after the general elections in 2018 and the other at the time of the presidential elections.
However, he regretted, the federal government had failed to implement even a single point of the agreements.
One of the key demands of the Balochistan-based party was the recovery of missing persons.
The BNP-M chief presented two lists of missing persons before the house -- one containing the names of 18 people who had been recovered so far and the other mentioning over 500 people who went missing after the party signed the accords with the PTI.
“We are ready to face any kind of punishment, even death, if our demands are demands are illegal and unconstitutional. But all other people who signed the agreements should also face the same punishment,” he said.
Mengal lambasted the federal government for not taking any serious measures about the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan.
The BNP-M chief also expressed his displeasure over not enough funds being allocated in budget for development projects in Balochistan. He added that Prime Minister Imran Khan did not bother meeting with the families of the missing persons or the fishermen of the province.
“We only demanded the recovery of missing persons and the implementation of the National Action Plan [against terrorism] in letter and spirit,” he said. “In the other agreement, we demanded development projects for Balochistan.”
He maintained that the federal and Balochistan governments were responsible for the spread of the disease in the country as they had allowed pilgrims from Iran to enter Taftan without proper arrangements.
He also said the government did not take any steps to stop the locust invasion despite repeated warnings.
The BNP-M chief further hit out at the Centre for reducing the shares of the provinces in the National Finance Commission award.
“The parliament has become the speakers’ corner in Hyde Park [in London] where the members vent their frustration through their speeches but nobody is listening to them seriously.”
The BNP-M has been pushing the PTI government since it came to power in August 2018 for the implementation of the agreements, in which, the recovery of missing persons tops the agenda. Its other demands include the implementation of the National Action Plan, implementation of 6% for Balochistan in the federal government, immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees, construction of dams in the province to resolve the acute water crisis, the province’s right to its resources, health, education and infrastructure.
A day earlier, a PTI delegation headed by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar on the instructions of the prime minister met the leaders of the BNP-M.
The committee was tasked to discuss issues and matters and to resolves grievances of the Balochistan-based party.
Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri and MNA Muhammad Jamali also represented the government side.
Besides Mengal, BNP-M Secretary General Dr Jahanzaib Jamaldini, Central Secretary Information and MNA Agha Hassan Baloch and Hashim Notezai represented the party.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari held telephonic conversation with the BNP chief.
The discussed current political situation in the country and agreed to keep in touch.
What it means for PTI
Number of National Assembly members from the leading patry and coalition partners reduces to 180 after BNP parted ways with PTI.
PTI has 156, MQM has seven, PML-Q has five while the GDA has tree members. Two independent members, while one from each, AML and JWP are part of the government alliance.
The opposition has 157 members while the PML-N has 84 and PPP has 55 members. 15 members from the MMA, one from ANP, and two independent members are also a part of the opposition alliance.
According to the parliamentary sources, four members from Akhtar Mengal's party who have parted ways from the government alliance have not yet announced of becoming a part of the opposition alliance. Despite being a part of the government alliance, they remained on independent benches.
With the inclusion of BNP in the opposition alliance, seats of the opposition party will jump to 161.