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Akhtar Mengal warns of parting ways with coalition govt over Foreign Investment Act

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  • Possibility of separation if concerns regarding bill not addressed: Mengal.
  • He says govt takes investors into confidence rather than parliament.
  • JUI-F’s senator says has been passed forcefully and with deceit.

Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Chairman Akhtar Mengal has signalled that he may separate his party from the incumbent PML-N-led government at the centre, Geo News reported Tuesday.

Speaking during a Geo News programme “Capital Talk”, Mengal showed reservations about the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act, 2022 to promote and protect foreign investment in relation to the Reko Diq project.

Mengal, whose party is one of the allies of the coalition government, said that there is a possibility of separation if concerns regarding the bill are not addressed.

The BNP-M leader said that the coalition government, instead of taking allies into confidence, takes investors into confidence. “More importance is given to the companies instead of the parliament. We will have to think about the basis of our unity,” he added.

Expressing his displeasure, Mengal said that a CEO of a company is respected more than the allies. He added that his province was “looted” by everyone. “The resources change people’s lives, but it is Balochistan’s misfortune that the way the resources were discovered there, they became a disaster for the people,” he added.

During the programme, another ally of the government Jamaat-e-Islami-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Senator Kamran Murtaza said that the Foreign Investment Bill has been passed forcefully and with deceit which is a threat to Pakistan. 

Senate okays Foreign Investment Bill

The upper house of parliament on December 12 approved the Foreign Investment (Promotion and Protection) Bill, 2022 in the midst of protests by opposition benches.

In light of the approval, the Pakistan government would sign the deal on December 15.  

President Arif Alvi also signed the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Bill 2022 on Tuesday turning it into an act. The law, which was already passed by two houses of parliament on Monday, is aimed at giving protection to foreign investments in the country. 

The statement from the Prime Minister’s House said the Ministry of Petroleum and other concerned ministries were also directed to go ahead with signing the Reko Diq deal on December 15. 

“The federal cabinet asked secretary/additional secretary petroleum under Rules of Business 1973 to sign the deal on behalf of the Pakistan government,” the cabinet decided. The statement said that the cabinet was apprised that a Presidential Reference under Article 186 was filed to secure legal opinion and the Supreme Court on December 9, 2022 declared that process of reorganisation of the Reko Diq project funding plan was transparent. The apex court also observed that the agreements which are being signed in this connection are also as per law.

The cabinet was also informed that it was decided with the coalition that legislation made in parliament was confined only to the Reko Diq deal. The meeting also okayed the regulatory framework for the Reko Diq Project Company.

The meeting also constituted a five-member committee, which would meet leaders of the coalition parties to remove their reservations. It was also decided certain amendments would also be made in consultation with stakeholders.

The five-member committee comprises Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Minister for Trade Syed Naveed Qamar and Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.

In case the agreement is not signed by December 15, Pakistan would have to pay four million dollars per day as interest on the 5.9 billion dollars penalty imposed by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes on July 12, 2019.

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The PPP promises the government will support the budget vote.

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Insiders state that the PPP will support the budget despite expressing reservations about it.

As previously stated, the party leaders had not yet decided whether to support or oppose the federal budget that the administration will be announcing today.

Leading figures have reportedly reached a resolution over the dispute between two parties that are allies.

In order to have the budget approved, the People’s Party will give the PML-N its whole support. Sources stated that the PPP would back the budget’s adoption “in spite of protests and speeches in committee.”

The administration promised the PPP that some of its recommendations would be included in the budget, according to sources. Voting supporting the PML-N budget is a quid pro quo commitment made by the PPP leadership.

For assistance in passing the budget, the PML-N had asked the PPP.

The PPP has not yet decided whether to accept or oppose the budget, according to PPP leader Nayya Bukhari.

The forthcoming yearly budget for 2024–25 and the state of the nation’s economy as a whole were the topics of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari’s Tuesday meeting.

The meeting was also attended by Professor Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives, a press statement from the President’s House stated.

The protection of low-income and middle-class interests in the annual budget is a priority, as highlighted by President Zardari. Along with pledging his support for fiscal benchmarks to be met, he also gave the prime minister assurances on national development.

The next budget’s proposed development projects were also discussed by President Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz. He told the president about his recent five-day travel to China, the prime minister said.

On June 12th, or today, the federal government will unveil its budget for the fiscal year 2024–25.

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PM Shehbaz will preside over today’s federal cabinet meeting.

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We will talk about the political and economic state of the nation on Tuesday, or today.

The meeting, which will take place in the prime minister’s office, will be facilitated by the prime minister.

As per insiders, the prime minister is expected to reassure the cabinet on his recent trip to China. The meeting will also include a discussion of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The decisions made at the sessions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) are expected to be ratified by the cabinet as well, according to sources.

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Today, the IHC will hear the petitions of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi in the matter of an illegal marriage.

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Imran Khan, the founder of PTI, and his wife Bushra Bibi will present their cases in an illegal marriage lawsuit before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today, Tuesday.

At the hearing will be IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. Regarding both petitions, the registrar’s office has previously voiced objections.

Bushra Bibi has appealed in her petition that the high court to take note of a matter that is still ongoing in the sessions court about the suspension of her sentence in an illegal marriage case.

In his appeal, PTI founder argued that the District and Sessions Judge Shahrukh Arjumand should be ordered by the high court to announce the case’s reserved ruling.

Through Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry and Barrister Salman Safdar, Bushra Bibi’s attorneys, filed the petition.

The petition was moved in the interim on Imran Khan’s behalf by attorney Salman Akram Raja.

Notably, on February 3, a civil court condemned Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Terrorist Organization, and Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison for their illegal marriage.

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