BNP-M chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal has revealed that in the days leading to his separation from the Centre a ruling party delegation had met with him to dissuade him from the decision but that he had firmly told them that they “failed to deliver”.
Appearing in Hamid Mir’s “Capital Talk” hours after his announcement to quit the coalition on Wednesday, Mengal said that two days prior, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar, former Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri met with him.
“I made it clear to them that this is my party’s decision and you have failed to deliver,” said Mengal.
Akhtar Mengal also said that National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had also spoken to him yesterday. “I told him as well that if it isn’t possible for you [to keep your word], then just say it.”
Mengal’s six-point agenda includes recovery of missing persons, implementation of the National Action Plan, implementation of six per cent quota for Balochistan in the federal government, immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees and the construction of dams in the province to resolve the acute water crisis.
Akhtar Mengal: Will PPP approach the BNP?
In the past when the BNP was not at good terms with the PTI, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman Pakistan People’s Party, constituted a four members committee to win the support of Akhtar Mengal. The committee included Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Farhatullah Babar, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Khursheed Ahmed Shah, their task was to win Mengal’s support in order to convince him to vote against the government’s budget bill, media reports suggested.
The BNP-M and PPP have been allies in the general elections 2018 when PPP supported BNP’s candidates on NA-272 Lasbela-Gwadar and PB-51 Gwadar whereas, BNP backed PPP’s candidates on PB-39 and PB-50.
BNP’s working relationship with PTI
The BNP has 4 seats in the National Assembly and nine in the Balochistan assembly. It established a working relationship with the PTI-led government and demanded the development of the province. Experts believe that PM Khan is committed to ensure the implementation of the six-point agenda signed with the BNP to lessen the anger of the people of Balochistan who have historically been ignored and exploited.
In a recent development, the Pakistan Armed forces voluntarily decided not increase the defence budget and according to the prime minister, this money shall be spent on the development of Balochistan and tribal areas of Pakistan.
As per the commitment, several missing persons have returned back to their homes in just a few days. According to reports, Mehran Khyiazai, Abdul Karim Musazai from Saindak, Haji Ghulam Dastagir Mohammad Hasni from Dalbandin, Kabir Ahmed and Mohammad Ewaz Killi from Qadirabad Noshki, Abdul Samad Langove and Mohammad Ibrahim Kalat, Khalid Naveed from Mashkay and Khan Mohammad Bugti Kashangi from Noshki have safely returned to their families.
Under-development in Balochistan
Akhtar Mengal says that Balochistan is the richest province in terms of its resources but least developed when it comes to education and infrastructural development. There are experts and academics that attribute the state of underdevelopment of the province to the local political leadership which has traditionally been self-centred.
But politicians from Balochistan allege that the federal governments have never sincerely focused on the development of the province which resulted in the creation of ethnonationalism. There is an ongoing insurgency in Balochistan where India and Afghanistan are playing their role to exploit identity fault lines to urge the natives to stand up against Pakistan.
Kulbushan Yadev, an Indian spy, has admitted that his role was to help out the separatists in Balochistan to destabilize Pakistan. Governments’ negligence to understand and address the problems of the common Baloch people help the separatists convince more and more people to get their support.
Dr. Rehana Saeed Hashmi, Associate Professor of Political Science at Punjab University, has argued in her research that the state of Pakistan needs to understand the nature of ethnic politics in the country where groups feel a sense of internal colonization. She further argues that if such ethnic movements are not addressed immediately foreign enemies hijack them and destabilize the country.