Political setback for PTI government

BNP-Mengal Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal announced to quit ruling coalition

PTI government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan has suffered a political setback as BNP-M has announced to quit the ruling coalition. Balochistan National Party Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal has announced that he and his party are withdrawing support for PTI led coalition government.
BNP-M was pressing their demands like missing persons, resources and Baluchistan's share in the NFC.  It seems that BNP-M was not happy and satisfied the way PTI government is making decisions regarding Balochistan. The pressure were mounting on the BNP-M leadership to quit the government or make progress on the burning issues. 
The withdrawal of support by BNP-M will further reduce the already thin majority of ruling coalition in the National Assembly. Although, it might not pose an immediate threat to PTI government but in the long run, it could cause problems for government to maintain majority.
The role of the PML-Q will become even more important after the withdrawal of BNP-M. If PTI develop differences with PML-Q then it will depend on the support of PML-N forward block to retain the magic number of 172 in the national assembly.
The numbers game might not come into play immediately. As the government busy dealing with coronavirus, it will be difficult for the opposition to launch mass protest campaign on the streets or table a no confidence motion in the national Assembly. The powers that be will not like such political instability at this stage. So government is not facing any serious challenge from political opponents.     The numbers game will come into play as soon as opposition decided to move the no confidence motion against Prime Minister or speaker national assembly.   
In the past 22 months, BNP-M repeatedly raised its demands and reminded the PTI government about the written agreement signed by both sides. On the last two occasions when BNP-M announced to part ways with PTI government, the party stalwart and business tycoon Jahangir Tareen came to the rescue. But this time around, he is in London and not seems happy with PM Imran Khan on the issue of sugar inquiry report.
If PTI government failed to bring back the BNP-M in the federal coalition government like in the past, it will weaken the PTI government. At the moment, PTI government seems comfortable as opposition forces are facing NAB cases and inquiries. The opposition is not in aggressive mood. It is rather on the defensive. 
This situation gives upper hand and an advantage to PTI government. But the deepening economic crisis and rising cases of coronavirus might change the situation. PTI depends largely on the support of powers that be to continue ruling the country without much resistance from opposition parties. But if the PTI government failed to revive the economy and control the COVID-19 pandemic, then it would face growing and aggressive opposition. 
Akhtar Mengal announced the decision while speaking in the National Assembly session. He said they had waited for two years but no one bothered to pay attention to their demands. “We are not a colony. We should be considered as citizens.” Mengal said that he will remain a part of the NA and will continue to attend sessions and raise issues. BNP-M has four seats in National Assembly.
Earlier, Sardar Akhtar Mengal threatened that his party could withdraw its support for the federal government led by PTI if the ruling party would continue igno­ring it while taking decisions abo­ut Balochistan, including matters related to Gwadar and Reko Diq.
He said BNP-M legislators voted for the PTI candidates in the elections for prime minister and president after signing a six-point accord with it.
Mengal said the BNP-M would not betray the people of Balochistan who had reposed their confidence in it in the July election, adding they had supported this party’s candidates in the election on the promise that they would protect the province’s natural resources and its coast. He said no one would be allowed to sell Balochistan’s natural resources.
                                                                      Khalid Bhatti

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