Govt, BNP-M come to an agreement, announces Khattak

ISLAMABAD: Minister of Defence Pervez Khattak said on Thursday All six of the points raised by Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) have been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by the government.

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Speaking in the joint press conference with BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal outside the Parliament House in the federal capital, the minister and BNP-M chief said that an agreement had been reached between the two. Khattak, while briefly discussing the points agreed upon, said that the government has constituted a committee to address the matter of missing persons in Balochistan.

Khattak said, “the other matter that was raised by the party was regarding water, and it has been promised that several small dams will be created in the province to help in water conservation. Furthermore, the feasibility for two larger dams is also being created and work will begin on them as soon as the process is completed.”

“Another issue discussed in the meeting was the sense of insecurity that the people of Gwadar feel because of a large number of outsiders that are going to the area as it develops. There is a fear that these people may be able to obtain identification cards from the area and the Baloch majority may become a minority,” he added.

The minister continued, “we have ensured the party that a bill will be brought into the National Assembly to ensure that such an event does not take place and the rights of the people of Gwadar are protected.”

A gold refinery would be set up in Balochistan to benefit the province and its people. announced Khattak.

Regarding BNP-M’s concerns over the unfulfilled promise of six per cent government jobs being provided to people of the province, Khattak said, “we have assured the party that the promise will be fulfilled and, with time, Balochistan will get its fair share of government jobs.”

Both sides also agreed upon providing respectful repatriation for the Afghan refugees.

Mengal said he was grateful that the government had taken the time to ease the party’s concerns. “However, it should be known that the differences between the two sides were not developed because of us,” he added.

The BNP-M leader mentioned that, during his meeting with the Prime Minister Imran Khan, he was assured by the PM that no reductions will be made to the NFC award and that the 18th Amendment will not be rolled back.

Khattak interjected, “these rumours were floating around, but the truth is that to make both these changes, we need a two-thirds majority (in the NA) and we do not have that. Thus, to the people creating these rumours, I would like to tell them that they should stop lying so much.”

Mengal said that he had suggested to the premier that a committee of political leaders be sent to Balochistan to properly understand the grievances of the people there, adding, “once it returns, the committee should present a report to the parliament and then whatever decision is taken on the matter will be acceptable to us.”

The announcement of the agreement between BNP-M and the federal government will ease the government’s concerns ahead of the key vote on the budget.

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