BNP-M Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal Sounds Alarm On Govt's Future

Warns that opposition parties are already gathering to chalk out a joint strategy for staging protests inside and outside the parliament

BNP-M Chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal Sounds Alarm On Govt's Future

The incumbent coalition government has been in power for a little over a month, but it seems that the opposition parties have already seen enough. The sour taste of events of February 8, it seems, has deepened rather than dissipated in the two months since the general elections, and those on the fringes are anxious and ready to pack off the government.

Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal spoke exclusively to The Friday Times on what he and his party are planning and what the rest of the opposition plans to do in the coming months.

A seasoned politician, Sardar Mengal, says the mandate of all parties currently sitting in opposition was snatched during the February 8 polls and that they will no longer sit silently and bear the atrocities being committed by the government. 

"All opposition parties are uniting to chalk out a joint strategy and take back our rights as the present parliamentary politics, in this shape, is useless," Mengal said.

Referring to past democratic and political movements such as the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) of 1977 — an alliance of political parties from the right and left of the political spectrum against military dictatorship, the Movement to Restore Democracy (MRD) in 1981 and its successor, the MRD  of 2000, the BNP-M chief said that the alliance of opposition political parties currently brewing will write a new chapter in the political history of Pakistan. 

Asked to describe the composition of this movement, Mengal said it would include the likes of the embattled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Pashtoonkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) — whose chief was put forward as the opposition's candidate for the presidential elections, the Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) — with whom the PTI initially announced an alliance but later called it off, BNP- M and some Sindh-based parties. Together, Mengal hoped they would find a way to stage nationwide protests. 

"An initial meeting took place in Quetta, and now subsequent meetings will be held to shape future plans through consensus," said the BNP-M chief, adding that all the suggestions will be discussed jointly before starting a joint move in the near future.

"This is not only a question of damaging politicians but also of affecting the voters and snatching their vote," he said, explaining the movement's purpose. 

He added that their supporters and voters have been complaining about the rigging and vote manipulation which allegedly took place in the aftermath of Februray 8 polls and that most voters were expressing their lack of trust in the current format of parliamentary politics.

"Such parliamentary politics is useless in all ways," he said.

He hoped this alliance would prove that politics and a democratically elected parliament could reclaim their true position in the country.

To a question about the way the PTI has been known to do business with coalition partners in the past, Mengal said that all parties part of the alliance will have an equal opportunity to share their concerns and raise their voices, as the alliance would make the final decision with consensus.

Mengal cast doubts over the government's intentions regarding the offer for dialogue. 

"We are not against dialogue, but intentions should be genuine," he said, adding, "Our mandate was snatched."

Mengal said that the opposition parties have yet to finalise their strategy on any offer for the government, adding that it is expected to be finalised at a meeting which senior members of the PTI, BNP-M, PkMAP, JI and other national parties will attend.

To a question, he said the opposition members have yet to discuss the modalities of staging protests against the government, both inside and outside the parliament.

About the demands they expect from the government, Mengal said it will be the opposition parties who will present a charter of demands to the government. These parties would then decide whether to invite other opposition factions to join the movement.

The senior politician from Balochistan shared that their charter of demands will likely be finalised after consulting each other. He added that their opponents (the government) know what they have done in the polls.

"All the opposition parties have reservations over the results of the February 8 polls, and this will be the main concern expressed in their protests," he said, adding that the government will face the wrath of the opposition parties unless it accepts its demands.