Islamabad - Although Prime Minister Imran Khan and leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) are confident of keeping the ruling coalition intact and going, the resignation of MQM-P convenor Maqbool Siddiqui has made the challenge quite a difficult one. Maqbool Siddiqui’s resignation from the federal cabinet last week led to a significant implication. His unexpected move has opened a window for other coalition partners to bring to the front their differences and veiled frustration. PTI leadership quickly decided to engage not only Maqbool Siddiqui and his party to revisit his decision, but the ruling PTI also launched parallel efforts to engage alongside other coalition partners to prevent further damage. AS these efforts of engaging PTI’s all coalition partners to prevent further damage continue, MQM-P convenor has stiffened his position not to withdraw his resignation, thus making it more difficult for Prime Minister and his PTI to wriggle out the situation comfortably. What ostensibly is transpiring from PTI’s efforts of engaging its coalition partners is that each of one them has come up with bags full of complaints about the implementation of their agreements with PTI.

As reported in the media, MQM-P, PML-Q, GDA, BNP-Mengal, and Pakistan Awami Party have raised their concerns with PTI, not only about the implementation of their respective agreements in letter and spirit, but their complaints are largely related to equitable allocation and disbursement of development funds. None of these parties seem ready to agree to PTI’s proposal to leave this issue until the next national budget. One hopes they finally decide to PTI’s proposal and soften their respective positions over the allocation and disbursement of development funds. If they don’t, the prime Minister and his ruling party would be left with little political space to surmount the challenge.

Political observers say that PTI has been able to survive its first year in power on the pretext of limited fiscal space to oblige its coalition partners as well as its own members of the parliament. Now when the Prime Minister and his party are claiming to have come out of that situation and declared the year 2002 of development and jobs, the coalition partners and its own members are pushing the Prime Minister for a firm commitment perhaps in their bid to secure renewed commitment over allocation of development funds before their next budget. On the other hand, some analysts are looking at Maqbool Siddiquis’ resignation with skepticism terming it a tactical to spur a political crisis within the PTI-led ruling coalition.

They believed that timing chosen by Maqbool Siddiqui’s to tender his resignation is to be seen in the context of MQM-P’s political standing vis-à-vis PTI’s own political interest in the port city of Karachi on the face of the public mandate given to it in the last general elections. They also believed that the recent offer made to MQM-P by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto is a key factor that gave MPM-P more political space. They are of the view that that resignation of MQM-P convenor from the federal cabinet has, in fact, hit dealt a severe blow to PTI by opening a window for other coalition partners such Sindh based Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) which has also started complaining against the PTI ministers from Karachi after this development. Likewise, in Balochistan, concessions given to BNP-Mengal have also raised eyebrows of Balochistan Awami Party (PAP), another coalition partner of PTI in the Balochistan government, and at the Centre. PAP leaders have not so far taken out their frustration publicly, but they don’t seem comfortable either. 

The most challenging situation for Prime Minister his party is the support of PML-Q among all the coalition partners. Few analysts emphasized the need to watch their relation in the days to come. They believed that in case of any upset between the PTI and PML-Q would be colossal not only for the coalition but for the PTI itself. Although there seems to a remote chance of any break up between PTI and PML-Q, these, according to these analysts, Punjab would be a major challenge for PTI-led government.