–PML-Q’s Cheema thanks PTI for understanding ‘our pain’, hopes promises will be fulfilled this time
–Jahangir Tareen says MQM-P will return to federal cabinet soon as talks are underway
–PTI delegation assures BAP leaders of addressing concerns, to meet BNP chief Akhtar Mengal today
ISLAMABAD: As the allies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) begin to give a tough time to the government over its failure to fulfill promises, the ruling party on Wednesday seemingly managed to woo one of its disgruntled allies, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
The meeting came after the government failed to convince the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) whose chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui resigned from the cabinet owing to differences with the approach of the PTI towards Karachi.
On Wednesday, a PTI delegation comprising Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Jahangir Tareen, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Arbab Shahzad met PML-Q leaders Tariq Bashir Cheema, Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, Chaudhry Salik Hussain and Chaudhry Hussain Elahi in Islamabad.
Non-distribution of development funds, particularly in Punjab, was one of the complaints of PML-Q, according to sources, adding that Punjab’s Annual Development Programme was worth Rs342 billion, but only Rs70bn had been released.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Cheema, who skipped the federal cabinet’s meeting on Tuesday, thanked Khattak and Tareen for “understanding our pain”.
He said the PML-Q had differences with the government over the “development process”, hoping its demands will be met soon.
Speaking about the meeting with the allied party, Khattak said the two sides had met to remove some “misconceptions created by people”, without elaborating.
The defence minister said that the parties were “allies before and will remain allies in the future”.
He said things were all good between the PTI and PML-Q and assured that the government would complete its tenure along with its allies.
Informed sources told Pakistan Today that the PTI delegation had sought a meeting with the PML leadership at Punjab House at 4pm on Wednesday but Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi refused to attend the sitting, telling the intermediary that since the Chaudhries were unhappy with the federal government, the government delegation should have travelled to Lahore to meet them.
“Why should I travel to Islamabad from Lahore to meet the government team. They should have travelled to Lahore if they were serious,” a government source quoted Elahi as saying. According to the source, the government team informed Elahi that they were engaged in dialogue with a MQM-P delegation in Islamabad therefore it was convenient for them to meet the PML leadership in the federal capital.
The source said that the Chaudhries wanted a ministerial position for Moonis Elahi but Prime Minister Imran Khan was opposed to the demand because of Moonis’ involvement in a NAB case.
“A ministry could be given to Salik Hussain or Hussain Elahi but Pervaiz Elahi is adamant over making Moonis Elahi a federal minister,” the source added.
PML-Q leader Kamil Ali Agha told Pakistan Today that they had reiterated their four demands before the PTI’s team. He said that provincial secretaries have been changed against ministers’ will and no development budget has been assigned to the PML lawmakers.
“The government dolled out Rs10 billion to BNP lawmakers but not a penny was given to PML lawmakers,” he said, complaining that the government had also ignored them in consultation over key policies.
However, Agha dodged a question regarding rumours of an in-house change and whether the PML-Q would support the PML-N in case any such development takes place, saying he would not comment on “hypothetical” questions.
Addressing reporters after meeting the PML-Q leaders, Jahangir Tareen said that he was confident that the MQM-P lawmakers will return to the cabinet as talks with them were underway.
However, contrary to some media reports, the Prime Minister’s Office has said that no meeting has been fixed between PM Imran and MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.
Another ally, the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) has also expressed its displeasure with the PTI government a number of times.
Speaking about the BNP-M, Tareen said that several rounds of talks had been held with the BNP-M, which have been productive.
Sources said that the PTI delegation will hold a meeting with BNP-Mengal leader Akhtar Mengal on Thursday and inform him about the progress on his party’s demands.
The government’s negotiation committee also held a meeting with a delegation of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) to remove the party’s reservations.
The BAP representatives included Khalid Magsi, Zubaida Jalal, Ehsanullah Reki and others, who expressed their concerns over not getting a federal ministry and non-issuance of development funds for their constituencies, sources privy to the matter revealed.
The government’s committee assured the delegation of removing their reservations while stressing that it is Prime Minister Imran Khan’s foremost priority to solve the problems of Balochistan.
The committee said the premier will soon visit Balochistan and it will be made certain that funds for the development projects of the province are issued.
On Tuesday, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail held a meeting with Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi at his residence in Karachi on Tuesday convincing him to allow more time to address unresolved issues between PTI and the Grand Democratic Alliance.