Is Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui’s resignation from the federal cabinet is a below the belt hit to the fragile PTI-led ruling alliance, or is it a mere pressure tactic of the MQM-P convenor to press Prime Minister Imran Khan to accept demands promised to his party?

On the other hand, a key leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf (PTI) from Karachi Shamim Naqvi MPA reacted on the distressing development with optimism saying his party is in contact with the MQM-P and hoped to convince Dr. Siddiqui to review his decision.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has recently urged the MQM-P to quit the federal government and topple it in lieu of the same number of ministerial positions he offered MQM-P in the Sindh government. 

Likewise, it is yet to be seen how other coalition partners of the ruling PTI including Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) and Balochistan National Party (Mengal) react to the MQM-P’s move.

Insiders say they too have their reservations and the PTI leadership is in contact with them to address their concerns. A delegation of GDA has recently met with Prime Minister Imran Khan and raised their concerns.

The PTI has already accepted some demands of BNP-Mengal while a PTI team comprising party’s stalwart Jhangir Tareen, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar and Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Shahzad Akbar had met PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi and heard his party’s concern.

Another meeting is expected between PTI and PML-Q leaders to discuss a roadmap about the release of disbursement of development funds to PML-Q. It is learnt that the PTI team had offered PML-Q a development package for next fiscal year 2020-2021.          

Asad Umar told The Nation on Sunday that a PTI team will meet MQM-P leaders today to hear their grievances if any.

He said that PTI will make utmost efforts to address the MQM-P’s genuine concerns, but did not agree when his attention was drawn towards MQM-P’s concern about the delay in release of development funds agreed by the federal government for Karachi projects.

“The federal government has agreed with MQM-P leaders a roadmap for release of development funds for Karachi projects,” Asad said.

He noted that a hefty amount of Rs.65 billion has already been released to speed up work of  development projects for Karachi being funded by the federal government while a PC-1 of projects worth one billion rupees, identified by Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar for KMC and being coordinated by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, has also been finalised,” Asad said. 

However, he made it clear that PTI is also a major stakeholder in Karachi development works because of its mandate given by the party workers in the general elections held in July last year.

“We do need to take into account their interest as well,” he quipped.          

On the other hand some political observers are looking at MQM’s move a serious development that could cause a colossal blow to PTI’s numerically fragile government.

They feared that in the given situation, PTI’s other coalition partners including GDA, PML-Q and BNP-Mengal could also follow the MQM’s suit that would destabilise the federal government.

Commenting on the development, a Karachi-based analyst, Fazil Jamili, said that the MQM-P could be doing it to secure better political offers from the government, though, he added, it could also be a step towards an in-house change in parliament.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration can be changed if it loses a coalition partner,” he said. “The government is not performing well, particularly in the economic realm, and the coming months will make it more clear. If things don’t get better, there can be an in-house change.”

However, other analysts did not agree with the observations of Fazil Jamili saying the development may not be a precursor for change. According to them, MQM-P has always been in the position to bargain, and it has been doing such announcements to extract political mileage in the past as well.