Don’t take us for granted, PPP warns PML-N

Main ally of PM Shehbaz’s govt had only a token participation in the National Assembly’s budget session

Rizwan Shehzad   June 12, 2024


Rifts between the Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) deepened on Wednesday as main ally of PML-N government had only a token participation in the National Assembly’s budget session after the ruling party didn’t bother to address PPPP’s reservations about budget.

The disgruntled lawmakers of the PPPP only had a token participation in the budget session; that too after the Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar rushed to PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s chamber, requesting that the party should attend the budget session.

However, the PPP chairman only sent three of his MNAs, Naveed Qamar, Khursheed Shah and Ijaz Jakhrani, to represent PPPP in the session as the party feels that PML-N has not only deviated from its post-election agreement but it has started taking PPPP for granted. The PPP chairman and the rest of the party lawmakers were conspicuous by their absence when the session started.

“The PML-N has violated the agreement that it reached with PPPP before forming the government in the Center as it has not taken any input from its key ally in the PSDP budget,” PPPP Secretary Information Shazia Marri shared with The Express Tribune, “the government is taking us for granted.”

Also read: Govt unveils Rs18.877 trillion budget with record development fund, salary hikes

The party spokesperson said that both the parties had agreed that they would consult on Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) programme and take PPPP’s recommendations in this regard but that hasn’t happened. Marri said that the government side only briefed a few party lawmakers a few days ago but nothing has happened after that, adding that the token participation in today’s session makes it clear PM Shehbaz and the government hasn’t given any assurances to PPPP.

Had Dar not come to request Bilawal and assure that the government will look into the issue, Marri said, PPPP wouldn’t even have participated in the session at all. To a question what will be PPPP’s next move, Marri said that it was up to the government how it moves on from here on as the ball was in the government’s court.

Responding to the question if PPPP would help the government pass the budget, Marri said that the government still has time to address PPPP’s concerns. “We are not blackmailers; we act responsibly,” she said, “but the government shouldn’t take us for granted.” She said that PPPP wants to subsidise farmers, strategise taxation and avoid regressive taxation. 

PPPP and PML-N hit a stumbling block on Tuesday when they failed to reconcile their differences over the proposed 18 per cent standard sales tax on agriculture inputs and machinery. The tax, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) insists on as part of its campaign to end tax exemptions in Pakistan, remains a bone of contention.

In addition, the PPP leadership is unhappy over load-shedding, importing wheat at the wrong time and the inquiry results as well as not giving relief to the agriculture sector in the budget. Feeling left out in the cold by the PML-N, the PPP leadership minced no words in expressing their displeasure as they lambasted the PML-N for sidelining a key coalition partner.

Also read: PPP, PML-N in dispute over agriculture tax

When asked about the PPPP’s thin presence in the NA, Senator Sherry Rehman said that the PPP had agreed to support govt formation in the larger national interest after intense negotiations, saying that as part of both the parties’ agreement, “the PSDP of all four provinces was to be pre-agreed with the government.”

Had we been taken on board, the PPPP stalwart said, we would have been able to positively contribute to the government’s budget making process. “It is for this reason that PPPP had token representation in protest during today’s budget speech session in the National Assembly,” Rehman said.

“It is our party’s position that the government must take the PPP into full confidence on important issues such as the budget,” she said, adding the PPPP is also engaged with the PMLN to ensure that the agreement is implemented and any future misunderstandings can be avoided. Both parties’ teams are meeting again tomorrow, she said, to ensure the implementation of the remainder of the agreement.

For past few days, the coalition partners have not been on the same page after PPPP accused PML-N of turning a deaf ear to its concerns about budget and taxation, saying the PM and his government should approach and address the issues if they needed continued support from the key ally.

Following a split mandate in the February 8 general elections, it was the PPPP which had helped the PML-N to form the government in the center after they both had reached an agreement and divided key constitutional offices, including PM, president, governors, chairman and deputy chairman of Senate and speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, between them.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ