Balochistan conundrum: Assembly goes into session amidst deadlock on CM

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 5:00:07 by



QUETTA / LAHORE: 

The new Balochistan Assembly’s first session will be taking place today, but there is no consensus as yet over who will be the chief minister. 

On their return from Raiwind, the Balochistan leadership of the PML-N and National Party told media that they had entrusted the decision to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.

PML-N’s provincial chief Nawab Sanaullah Zehri said that according to the 18th Amendment, it was the right of the province to pick its chief minister, adding that the PML-N is the majority party in the assembly and therefore, the CM should be from amongst its ranks.

He added that only oaths would be taken in the first session on Saturday, while the decision of the chief minister could be taken later.

“We discussed the issue of chief ministership with Nawaz Sharif, he understands the situation and a decision will soon be made,” said Zehri. He said an impression was being created that there were rifts in the PML-N. “There is no disagreement among us,” he said.

PML-N MPA-elect Nawabzada Jangayz Marri also said the decision regarding the chief minister would be made with consensus and added that hopefully the decision would be in the greater interest of the people.

President of the National Party (NP) Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said that Mehmood Khan Achakzai’s PkMAP had proposed his name for the chief minister slot. However, he also said that the decision was in Nawaz’s hands.

Hard bargaining behind closed doors

But all the bonhomie hides the rough and tumble negotiations that took place behind closed doors in Raiwind on Friday.

The incoming prime minister on Friday chaired a high-level meeting of all political stakeholders, including a 27-member party delegation led by Zehri, Achakzai and NP’s Hasil Bizenjo and Dr Malik.

According to sources, Achakzai and Bizenjo demanded the post of chief minister based on their strength in the assembly. The PkMAP and NP have 13 and 11 seats respectively, including reserved seats.

They also tried to convince Nawaz to give the governorship to a Pakhtun member of PkMAP. Achakzai and Bizenjo said that both the PkMAP and NP had decided on Dr Malik as their choice for chief minister and if the chief minister was an ethnic Baloch, then the governor should be a Pakhtun to ensure equal representation of the two ethnic communities in the province.

Nawaz however only offered them the governorship and senior ministerial slots in the Balochistan cabinet, but remained unmoved on the chief minister’s position. Achakzai then told Nawaz that if he chose a PML-N candidate for the provincial chief executive post, the PkMAP would not be a part of the government.

According to sources, Nawaz was not pleased with the ‘irrational demands’ of NP and PkMAP and instead asked the PML-N to expedite its formation of the provincial government.

Zehri demands post of CM

For his part, Zehri urged Nawaz to either pick him as the chief minister or ask him to quit the party, saying there were no other options.

Nawaz also reportedly asked Zehri to withdraw his FIR against BNP-M head Sardar Akhtar Mengal and Nawab Khair Buksh Marri. He said the FIR was the biggest hurdle in talks with Baloch separatists.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Dr Malik said Nawaz would make an attempt to convince Achakzai and Bizenjo once again, else the PML-N had the capacity to form its own government without them.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2013.



Lahore News Sources -2

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