–MPA from Layyah says ‘if we are not given respect, then there will be no party, govt or bureaucracy’
LAHORE: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday found itself facing yet another political challenge after it emerged that at least 20 members of the provincial assembly had formed a forward bloc in the party.
The forward bloc comprises MPAs belonging to South and Central Punjab who are unhappy with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for making bureaucratic appointments without taking them into confidence and non-issuance of development funds.
According to sources, the disgruntled party MPAs have held two meetings within a month with the chief minister but they haven’t received a satisfactory response to their demands as yet.
Talking to a news channel, PTI MPA from Layyah, Sardar Shahabuddin said that the disgruntled lawmakers’ main agenda is development.
“Some people had reservations over the local administration,” he said, adding that they wanted to tell the bureaucrats that they didn’t want them to do anything wrong but “legitimate” work.
“Our remote areas should be treated equal to Lahore and Faisalabad, which is also the manifesto of the PTI,” he said.
Shahabuddin said they would go to any length to have their issues resolved.
“We do politics for honour. If we are not given respect, then there will be no party, government or bureaucracy,” he said. “We will go against everyone.”
The PTI lawmaker claimed that at least 10 more lawmakers were willing to commit to their cause.
The PTI government in Punjab may also land in trouble if these 20 MPAs decide to change their loyalties.
A party needs minimum 186 seats to form its government in the province. The PTI has 181 MPAs and the support of 10 members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid in the assembly.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is the second largest party with 165 seats, whereas the Pakistan People’s Party has seven seats in the house.
The emergence of a forward bloc could increase challenges of the PTI government as it is already engaged in talks with its coalition partners — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Balochistan National Party Mengal (BNP-M) — to keep its alliances intact.
In a statement, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar rejected rumors that Usman Buzdar will be removed from chief minister’s office.
“PML-Q does not seek chief minister’s post. There’s no threat to Usman Buzdar as long as he enjoys the support of the assembly members and Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said.
Sarwar said that difference of opinion within the party is also the beauty of democracy, adding that PTI believes in the freedom of expression. “Lawmakers have the prerogative to put forth their demands since they are answerable to their constituents,” he said.