Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday invited his government’s allies to a luncheon, with sources saying the coalition partners expressed dissent over the issues that they were facing.
The coalition parties — including the PML-F, other political parties of the GDA and the MQM-P — were reportedly relentless in pushing their complaints and the premier eventually had to make concessions and agree to address their grievances in the near term.
Sources said the allies expressed reservations over the non-provision of development funds and the lack of development projects in their constituencies. They also protested against the unresolved issues of the people of their constituencies, the sources added.
The Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination, Dr Fehmida Mirza, regretted that neither the federal government nor the Sindh government had undertaken any mega projects or development works in Sindh.
“The people of Sindh are being treated like stepchildren,” Dr Mirza complained, urging PM Imran Khan to pay attention to their problems.
“It is inappropriate to ignore elected parliamentarians in the federal government’s plans,” she added, highlighting her concerns regarding Sindh’s issues and the injustices of the PPP-led provincial setup.
‘We are your allies, but the govt does not prove it’
According to the sources, the PML-F also joined in in expressing reservations over the neglect felt by the people of Sindh.
“We are your allies, but the government does nothing to prove it,” Pir Pagara was said to have complained.
The MQM-P and the GDA also opened up about their views regarding the Government of Sindh, noting that the PPP had control of each department of the province.
The coalition members further alleged that the bureaucracy of Sindh was running federal projects according to the PPP’s own whims and wishes.
The MQM-P, while expressing reservations regarding the implementation of the Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP), demanded that the promises made to the southern port city be fulfilled.
“Work on the KTP has been extremely slow,” representatives of the Karachi-based party remarked. They added that the people of Karachi were being affected due to the Sindh government’s non-cooperation.
The MQM-P accused the Sindh government of nepotism with regard to the Ehsaas program and disbursements from the Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, saying only those the provincial government favoured or knew were being rewarded.
“The Sindh government is deliberately ignoring our constituencies,” the MQM-P leaders lamented, requesting the PTI-led regime to consult the coalition parties over federal projects.
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, a member of the Karachi-based party, raised the issue of missing party workers and Karachi-related cases.
You will see implementation soon, says PM Imran Khan
Sources had revealed earlier today that the Akhtar Mengal-led BNP-M and the PML-Q had snubbed the invitation to PM Imran Khan’s luncheon, where mutton pulao, haleem, and kheer were served to coalition partners.
Among those attending were Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani, Planning Minister Asad Umar, and Usman Buzdar, Jam Kamal Khan, and Mahmood Khan — the respective chief ministers of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Kamal spoke on the government’s performance and issues in Balochistan, complaining about the non-fulfillment of the federal government’ promises.
Umar, the sources added, gave the guests a briefing on Pakistan’s economy and reforms. The country’s economic situation, he observed, has greatly improved.
Following the protests and reservations put forth by members of the allies, the prime minister said he had heard the concerns and that coalition parties would “see implementation soon”.
“All the promises we made to the allies will be fulfilled,” he added. “We are all united to make Pakistan better.
PM Imran Khan complained about the Opposition, saying they were “hell-bent on harming Pakistan”.
“The Opposition is trying its best to blackmail me,” he claimed. “You all know I’m not going to be blackmailed.”
The premier said he wanted to have a dialogue with the Opposition, but they “keep asking for an NRO”.
“What is the use of a dialogue if we have to allow concessions in NAB cases,” he asked, referring to Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog and the controversial corruption cases against Opposition leaders.
“Dialogues will be meaningless if the terms are related to personal interests,” he stated.
Next 2-and-a-half years to focus only on performance, says Imran Khan
The premier said his party, the PTI, would “win the next elections on the basis of our performance” in the next two and a half years.
“The government and its allies will show their performance over the next two-and-a-half years,” he said. “The next general elections will be the ‘most transparent’ elections in Pakistan’s history,” he vowed.
Speaking of rising prices, the prime minister sought his allies’ views on inflation; they responded saying that it was crucial the government tackles it, sources said.
According to the sources, the coalition leaders noted that the inflation was very high and suggested that strict measures needed to be taken.
Read more: Is PTI losing the battle against inflation?
The premier said he agreed with the need to take drastic measures to tackle inflation. PM Imran Khan said his government was working regularly to control inflation, that economic indicators were improving rapidly, and that exports had also increased.