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Rift Surfaces in Pakistan’s Ruling Coalition as PPP Accuses PML-N of Budget Exclusion

File photo of former Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

File photo of former Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. , Photo Credit: PTI

The fissures within Pakistan’s ruling coalition government have surfaced with the PPP, a key ally, accusing the ruling PML-N of sidelining its inputs in the preparation of the annual budget and questioning if the Shehbaz Sharif-led government still values ​​its support.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) expressed its reservations in its parliamentary committee meeting presided over by the party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on June 11, ahead of the presentation of the budget for the financial year 2024-25 in Parliament, The Dawn The newspaper reported on June 12.

The PPP blamed the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government for not taking any inputs from the party while preparing the annual budget and wondered if it still wanted the ally’s support, the report said.

‘Our opinion was not taken’

Member of the National Assembly and PPP Information Secretary Shazia Marri, briefing journalists after the parliamentary body meeting, said the lawmakers apprised the leadership of problems in their constituencies and expressed reservations over development schemes.

“The attitude adopted by the federal government towards our lawmakers is causing problems to our members as they are accountable to the people,” she said, expressing PPP’s annoyance over the PML-N-led government’s behaviour.

“No input from our party was taken in preparing the budget. Even in the federal PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme), our opinion was not taken. We had tried to prevent such a situation and senior party members approached the government, but it did not yield any result. We did not expect that our voices would not be heard,” she said.

Presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on June Monday approved a more than 47% increase in the federal PSDP to ₹1.4 trillion compared to the current year’s ₹950 billion.

After the controversial February 8 general elections marred with massive rigging allegations, the PML-N and PPP formed a coalition government after intense negotiations following a fractured poll verdict.

This is not the first time the PPP has expressed its displeasure over being ignored by the PML-N-led government while making important decisions.

Last week, PPP leader Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah rued that the PML-N government “neither told us anything related to the budget nor took us into confidence… We don’t know what the PML-N is doing about privatisation policy, taxes, developmental programme”.

Mr. Shah further said the PPP does not know anything about relief and that it is unaware of whether the government is making the budget or if the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) budget is being imposed. He also said that PPP will have to scrutinise politically the decisions to be made about the budget.

David Dass
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